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12-09-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2017

Gender Specificity of Children’s Narrative Representations in Predicting Depressive Symptoms at Early School Age

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2017
Auteurs:
Anna Andreas, Yvonne Otto, Stephanie Stadelmann, Andrea Schlesier-Michel, Kai von Klitzing, Annette M. Klein

Abstract

Our longitudinal study contributes to the body of literature on depression in childhood by examining potential protective factors. We investigated the influence of maternal depressive symptoms on child depressive symptoms at early school age and its gender-specific moderation by children’s narrative representations of the maternal figure, over and above children’s own depressive symptoms at preschool age. Children’s narrative representations were assessed using the MacArthur Story Stem Battery in 170 preschool children (92 girls; 54.1 %) oversampled for internalizing symptoms. Children’s depressive symptoms were assessed at preschool age (Time 1; 4–6 years) and at early school age (Time 2; 6–8 years) by maternal report; mothers’ depressive symptoms were assessed at Time 1. The results showed that for boys, only their own depressive symptoms at Time 1 predicted their depressive symptoms at Time 2. For girls, maternal depressive symptoms were a significant risk factor for their own depressive symptoms at Time 2. Regarding this association, we also found a moderation effect: girls with more positive narrative representations of the maternal figure showed a reduced negative impact of maternal depressive symptoms on their own depressive symptoms at Time 2. This implies that clinical practice should screen a child for early depressive symptoms, especially if the mother displays depressive symptoms. Clinicians might also assess children’s inner working models, which can serve as a protective factor.

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