Peer Victimization and Children’s Internalizing Problems: Linking Teacher-Child Relationship Quality and Child Gender to Early Child Behaviour Adjustment




Zerff, Marissa Rae

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This study utilized longitudinal correlational and regression analyses to examine children’s internalizing behaviour problems, while focusing on the predictive function of peer victimization, the quality of the teacher-child relationship and child gender in early school years. Given the relationship between peer victimization and internalizing problems, the teacher-child relationship and gender was hypothesized to influence the strength and/or direction of this relationship. Participants included children in pre-kindergarten (n = 258) to grade one (n = 272) from twelve schools in an Australian city. Parent reports were used to assess child internalizing problems and peer victimization, and teachers reported on the teacher-child relationship and peer victimization. A significant main effect was found for child gender and kindergarten teacher-child conflict on internalizing behaviours in grade one, whereas no main effect was found for grade one internalizing behaviours for parent-rated peer victimization and teacher-child warmth. The quality of the teacher-child relationship was not found to moderate the relationship between peer victimization and internalizing problems, while child gender did moderate the influence of teacher-child relationship conflict on internalizing problems a year later. The results of the present study indicated that the relationship between teacher-child conflict and internalizing problems a year later differs for boys and girls. The importance of specific microsystems (i.e., teacher-child relationships) over time on children’s behavioural development is discussed, and implications for future research and teacher-child interventions are presented.



peer victimization, internalizing behaviours, teacher-child relationship, early childhood, child gender