As research examining sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) advances, it is important to examine the structure and validity of SCT in a variety of samples, including samples of children who are clinically-distressed but not referred specifically for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The present study used a large sample of psychiatrically hospitalized children (N = 680; 73 % male; 66 % African American) between the ages of 6 and 12 to examine the latent structure of SCT, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), depression, and anxiety using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Results of the CFA analyses demonstrated that SCT is distinct from these other dimensions of child psychopathology, including ADHD inattention, depression, and anxiety. Regression analyses indicated that SCT symptoms were positively associated with depression and, to a lesser degree, anxiety. SCT symptoms were also positively associated with children's general social problems, whereas SCT symptoms were negatively associated with an observational measure of behavioral dysregulation (i.e.; frequency of time-outs received as a part of a manualized behavior modification program). These associations were significant above and beyond relevant child demographic variables (i.e.; age, sex, race), children's other mental health symptoms (i.e.; ADHD, ODD, depression, anxiety symptoms), and, for all relations except child anxiety, parents' own anxiety and depression symptoms. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.