Emotional symptoms from kindergarten to middle childhood: associations with self- and other-oriented social skills

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;20(1):3-15. doi: 10.1007/s00787-010-0139-z. Epub 2010 Oct 8.


The study investigated the interactive impact of different dimensions of social skills on children's emotional symptoms. We differentiate between self-oriented social skills which focus on considering own goals and needs in social interactions (assertiveness, social participation) and other-oriented social skills which focus on considering other's goals and needs (pro-social and cooperative behavior). 167 children participated in the study at the ages of 5, 6, and 9 years. A multi-informant approach (parents, teacher, and child) was employed to assess children's psychopathology. Teachers rated children's social skills. The study demonstrated the importance of deficits in self-oriented social skills for the development of emotional symptoms. Low levels of assertiveness predicted later emotional symptoms. In children with low levels of pro-social behavior, high assertiveness protected from emotional problems. In contrast, high levels of pro-social behavior emerged as a risk factor for later emotional symptoms, especially when is goes along with low levels of social participation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Affective Symptoms* / prevention & control
  • Affective Symptoms* / psychology
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Child Behavior Disorders* / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Personality Development*
  • Psychopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Socialization
  • Socioeconomic Factors