Purpose: To examine separate mediational models linking (a) menarcheal status or (b) pubertal timing to internalizing and externalizing problems through competence. Method: This study involved cross-sectional analyses of 262 adolescent girls (age: 1117 years; mean = 14.93, standard deviation = 2.17) enrolled in a longitudinal study examining the association of psychological functioning and smoking with reproductive and bone health. Measures of menarcheal status (pre/post), pubertal timing (early, on-time, or late), internalizing and externalizing behavior, and perceived competence (parent and adolescent report) were obtained. Structural equation modeling was used for analyses. Results: Perceived competence was found to fully mediate the association between menarcheal status and parent report of internalizing and externalizing problems. For adolescent report, there was a full mediation effect for internalizing problems but a partial mediation effect for externalizing problems. Being menarcheal was related to lower competence, which was in turn related to higher internalizing and externalizing problems. Models including pubertal timing were not significant. Conclusions: Perceived competence is important in understanding the associations between menarcheal status and internalizing and externalizing problems. Interventions targeting competence, particularly in postmenarcheal girls, may reduce or prevent problem behaviors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health