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13-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2020

Social Risk and Internalizing Distress in Middle Childhood: The Moderating Role of Emotion Regulation Processes

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2020
Auteurs:
Cara M. McClain, S. Taylor Younginer, L. Christian Elledge
Belangrijke opmerkingen
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Abstract

Objectives

This study examined whether the relation between peer victimization or rejection and internalizing distress (anxiety and depressive symptoms) was moderated by emotion regulation processes in a sample of elementary schoolers.

Methods

Analyses were based on a sample of 476 third and fourth-grade children (M = 9.16 years). Data were collected in the fall and spring of one academic year. Peer-reported victimization and rejection were assessed through a peer nomination inventory. Child-reported victimization, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and emotion regulation were assessed via self-report measures.

Results

Findings from multiple group path models provided evidence that girls scoring higher on peer rejection and boys scoring higher on peer-reported relational victimization reported fewer depressive symptoms in the spring when scoring lower on expressive suppression (girls: β = 0.157, SE = 0.067, p = 0.019; boys: β = 0.239, SE = 0.099, p = 0.016). Alternatively, boys scoring higher on self-reported peer victimization in the fall reported fewer anxiety symptoms in the spring when scoring higher on expressive suppression (β = −0.260, SE = 0.117, p = 0.027) or lower on cognitive reappraisal (β = 0.246, SE = 0.097, p = 0.011). Boys’ peer-reported victimization emerged as a positive predictor of anxiety in the spring, but only at high levels of cognitive reappraisal (β = 0.284, SE = 0.128, p = 0.026).

Conclusions

Results suggest that expressing emotion is a useful process for reducing depressive symptoms in rejected girls and relationally victimized boys. For boys, suppressing emotion may reduce the risk for developing anxiety as a consequence of peer victimization. Results suggest cognitive reappraisal is not an effective strategy for reducing anxiety in boys as a consequence of peer victimization. This study helps inform our understanding of the role of emotion regulation in relation between peer relationship difficulties and internalizing distress.

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