Experiences with teachers in childhood and their association with wellbeing in adulthood

BMC Psychol. 2022 Dec 1;10(1):283. doi: 10.1186/s40359-022-01000-6.


Background: Prior research mainly focussed on the impact of the teacher-student relationship on teachers emotions and wellbeing. Current data shows a relationship between the quality of the teacher-student relationship and children's mental health. Unfortunately, it has not yet been investigated whether meaningful experiences with teachers also have an impact on students' well-being and whether an effect can still be found in adulthood. This work examines the impact of meaningful experiences with teachers during childhood and adolescence on the well-being of adults.

Methods: The data in this study was collected by using a questionnaire. The current well-being of the participants was assessed with measures of life satisfaction, resilience, anxiety, stress, depressiveness, and self-esteem. Also, participants were asked to briefly write about their most meaningful experiences with teachers and rate them regarding their valence. These experiences were categorized into seven categories using a summarizing content analysis. We then conducted a statistical analysis with the data obtained.

Results: The results showed a highly significant correlation between the participants' self-esteem and the valence ratings of their experiences. Furthermore, the experience category had a substantial effect on individual self-esteem. Overall, this study demonstrated that a relationship exists between the well-being of adults and their experiences with teachers during childhood and adolescence.

Conclusion: The results of this study call for a reflective, fair, authentic, and empathetic approach to students. Accordingly, teachers should be intensively trained to establish a relationship with their students that is characterized by appreciation and empathy.

Keywords: Experiences with teachers; Meaningful experiences; Self-esteem; Teacher-student relationship; Well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Child
  • Educational Personnel*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Self Concept