Chinese mother’s scaffolding of young children’s responses to stress and children’s depressive symptoms during the first year of primary school

Thomas G. POWER, Mun Amanda WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

The transition to primary school in Hong Kong is stressful for young children primarily due to increases in pressure for academic performance from teachers and parents. Researchers suggest that these pressures might account for the higher level of depressive symptoms seen in children from China and other Eastern countries than in Western settings. The current study examined whether maternal strategies for helping children cope with the stresses of this transition predicted depressive symptoms over the first year of primary school. One hundred and three first year primary school children in Hong Kong were interviewed about their depressive symptoms at the end of the second month and during the last month of their first year in primary school. One hundred mothers completed questionnaires about how they scaffolded their children’s responses to stress at the same time points. Principal components analysis identified three types of maternal strategies: positive scaffolding (helping children understand the situation, process their emotions, and problem-solve solutions, along with creating positive expectations for the future); dismiss/blame (downplaying the serious of problems or blaming the situation on the child or others); and encouraging avoidance (distraction and encouraging avoidance). At the lower SES school, there was a significant negative bidirectional relationship between positive scaffolding and depressive symptoms; at the higher SES school, dismiss/blame at Time 1 positively predicted depressive symptoms at Time 2 and depressive symptoms at Time 1 positively predicted positive scaffolding at Time 2. Results inform parents about childhood stress during the transition to primary school and teach parents effective ways to help their children cope with these stresses including helping them process their feelings, analyze the situation, problem-solve solutions, and develop positive expectancies about the future. These results can inform parenting education programs targeting children’s depressive symptoms and parents’ scaffolding skills. Copyright © 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date09 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 09 Nov 2021

Citation

Power, T. G., & Wong, M. (2021). Chinese mother’s scaffolding of young children’s responses to stress and children’s depressive symptoms during the first year of primary school. Children and Youth Services Review. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2021.106284

Keywords

  • China
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Primary school
  • Parenting
  • Stress

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