BACKGROUND: Very preterm children have increased risk for social-emotional problems. This study examined relationships between early social-emotional difficulties and later social-emotional problems, and whether this differed by group (very preterm or term). METHODS: Participants were 189 children born less than 30 weeks gestation or less than 1,250 g at birth and 78 term-born children. Parent-report questionnaires were used to assess social-emotional development at 2 (infant toddler social emotional assessment) and 5 years of age (strengths and difficulties questionnaire). Social risk and children's cognitive development were collected at the age of 5 years. RESULTS: Emotional symptoms at the age of 5 years were predicted by internalizing problems at the age of 2 years, conduct problems and hyperactivity/inattention at the age of 5 years were predicted by externalizing problems at the age of 2 years, and peer relationship problems and prosocial behaviors at the age of 5 years were predicted by social-emotional competence at the age of 2 years. Relationships were not moderated by group. CONCLUSIONS: Implications for early detection of social-emotional problems and provision of targeted interventions are discussed.