Advertisement

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

  • Cara M. McClainEmail author
  • S. Taylor Younginer
  • L. Christian Elledge
Original Paper
  • 5 Downloads

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.

Keywords

Peer victimization Peer rejection Internalizing distress Expressive suppression Cognitive reappraisal 

Notes

Author Contribution

All authors contributed to the conceptualization, analysis, interpretation of results, writing, and editing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee. This project was approved by the University of Tennessee – Knoxville Institutional Review Board.

Informed Consent

Written parental consent and child assent were obtained for all participating children prior to study participation.

References

  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Integrative guide for the 1991 CBCL/4-18, YSR, and TRF profiles. Burlington, VT: Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont.Google Scholar
  2. Aldao, A., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Schweizer, S. (2010). Emotion-regulation strategies across psychopathology: a meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(2), 217–237.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2009.11.004.Google Scholar
  3. Asher, S. R., & Coie, J. D. (1990). Peer rejection in childhood. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bariola, E., Hughes, E. K., & Gullone, E. (2012). Relationships between parent and child emotion regulation strategy use: a brief report. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21(3), 443–448.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-011-9497-5.Google Scholar
  5. Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 238–246.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.238.Google Scholar
  6. Bowie, B. H. (2010). Emotion regulation related to children's future externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23(2), 74–83.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6171.2010.00226.x.Google Scholar
  7. Brendgen, M., Girard, A., Vitaro, F., Dionne, G., & Boivin, M. (2016). Personal and familial predictors of peer victimization trajectories from primary to secondary school. Developmental Psychology, 52(7), 1103–1114.  https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000107.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, T. A. (2015). Confirmatory factor analysis for applied research. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  9. Coie, J. D., Dodge, K. A., & Coppotelli, H. (1982). Dimensions and types of social status: a cross-age perspective. Developmental Psychology, 18(4), 557.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.18.4.557.Google Scholar
  10. Coie, J. D., Lochman, J. E., Terry, R., & Hyman, C. (1992). Predicting early adolescent disorder from childhood aggression and peer rejection. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60(5), 783.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.60.5.783.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, P. M., Zahn-Waxler, C., Fox, N. A., Usher, B. A., & Welsh, J. D. (1996). Individual differences in emotion regulation and behavior problems in preschool children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105(4), 518.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.105.4.518.Google Scholar
  12. Craig, W. M. (1998). The relationship among bullying, victimization, depression, anxiety, and aggression in elementary school children. Personality and Individual Differences, 24(1), 123–130.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(97)00145-1.Google Scholar
  13. Crick, N. R., & Nelson, D. A. (2002). Relational and physical victimization within friendships: Nobody told me there'd be friends like these. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30(6), 599–607.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020811714064.Google Scholar
  14. Dodge, K. A., Lansford, J. E., Burks, V. S., Bates, J. E., Pettit, G. S., Fontaine, R., & Price, J. M. (2003). Peer rejection and social information‐processing factors in the development of aggressive behavior problems in children. Child Development, 74(2), 374–393.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.7402004.Google Scholar
  15. Doyle, S. T., & Sullivan, T. N. (2017). Longitudinal relations between peer victimization, emotion dysregulation, and internalizing symptoms among early adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 37(2), 165–191.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431615594458.Google Scholar
  16. Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Guthrie, I. K., & Reiser, M. (2000). Dispositional emotionality and regulation: Their role in predicting quality of social functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(1), 136.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.78.1.136.Google Scholar
  17. Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  18. Epkins, C. C., & Heckler, D. R. (2011). Integrating etiological models of social anxiety and depression in youth: Evidence for a cumulative interpersonal risk model. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14(4), 329–376.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-011-0101-8.Google Scholar
  19. Espelage, D. L., & Holt, M. K. (2001). Bullying and victimization during early adolescence: Peer influences and psychosocial correlates. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 2(2–3), 123–142.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J135v02n02_08.Google Scholar
  20. Flanagan, K. S., Hoek, K. K. V., Shelton, A., Kelly, S. L., Morrison, C. M., & Young, A. M. (2013). Coping with bullying: what answers does children's literature provide? School Psychology International, 34(6), 691–706.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0143034313479691.Google Scholar
  21. Fussner, L. M., Luebbe, A. M., Mancini, K. J., & Becker, S. P. (2018). Emotion dysregulation mediates the longitudinal relation between peer rejection and depression: Differential effects of gender and grade. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 42(2), 155–166.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025416669062.Google Scholar
  22. Gardner, S. E., Betts, L. R., Stiller, J., & Coates, J. (2017). The role of emotion regulation for coping with school-based peer-victimisation in late childhood. Personality and Individual Differences, 107, 108–113.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.11.035.Google Scholar
  23. Garnefski, N., & Kraaij, V. (2006). Relationships between cognitive emotion regulation strategies and depressive symptoms: a comparative study of five specific samples. Personality and Individual Differences, 40(8), 1659–1669.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2005.12.009.Google Scholar
  24. Goldbaum, S., Craig, W. M., Pepler, D., & Connolly, J. (2003). Developmental trajectories of victimization. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 19(2), 139–156.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J008v19n02_09.Google Scholar
  25. Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39(3), 281–291.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0048577201393198.Google Scholar
  26. Gross, J. J., & John, O. P. (2003). Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: implications for affect, relationships, and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(2), 348.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.85.2.348.Google Scholar
  27. Gullone, E., Hughes, E. K., King, N. J., & Tonge, B. (2010). The normative development of emotion regulation strategy use in children and adolescents: a 2‐year follow‐up study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(5), 567–574.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02183.x.Google Scholar
  28. Gullone, E., & Taffe, J. (2012). The Emotion Regulation Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents (ERQ–CA): a psychometric evaluation. Psychological Assessment, 24(2), 409–417.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025777.Google Scholar
  29. Hanish, L. D., Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Spinrad, T. L., Ryan, P., & Schmidt, S. (2004). The expression and regulation of negative emotions: risk factors for young children’s peer victimization. Development and Psychopathology, 16(2), 335–353.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579404044542.Google Scholar
  30. Harper, B. D. (2012). Parents’ and children’s beliefs about peer victimization attributions, coping responses, and child adjustment. Journal of Early Adolescence, 32(3), 387–413.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431610396089.Google Scholar
  31. Hawker, D. S. J., & Boulton, M. J. (2003) Twenty years’ research on peer victimization and psychosocial maladjustment: a meta-analytic review of cross-sectional studies. In M. E. Hertzig, & E. A. Farber (Eds.), Annual progress in child psychiatry and child development: 2000–2001. pp (505–534). New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Hsieh, M., & Stright, A. D. (2012). Adolescents’ emotion regulation strategies, self-concept, and internalizing problems. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 32(6), 876–901.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431611433848.Google Scholar
  33. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1), 1–55.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10705519909540118.Google Scholar
  34. Hughes, E. K., Gullone, E., Dudley, A., & Tonge, B. (2010). A case-control study of emotion regulation and school refusal in children and adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 30(5), 691–706.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431609341049.Google Scholar
  35. Hughes, E. K., Gullone, E., & Watson, S. D. (2011). Emotional functioning in children and adolescents with elevated depressive symptoms. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 33(3), 335–345.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-011-9220-2.Google Scholar
  36. Jaffe, M., Gullone, E., & Hughes, E. K. (2010). The roles of temperamental dispositions and perceived parenting behaviours in the use of two emotion regulation strategies in late childhood. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 47–59.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2009.07.008.Google Scholar
  37. Juvonen, J., & Graham, S. (2001). Peer harassment in school: the plight of the vulnerable and victimized. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  38. Juvonen, J., Nishina, A., & Graham, S. (2001). Self-views versus peer perceptions of victim status among early adolescents. In J. Juvonen, & S. Graham (Eds), Peer harassment in school: the plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 105–124). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  39. Kendall, P. C., Crawford, E. A., Kagan, E. R., Furr, J. M., & Podell, J. L. (2018). In J. R. Weisz, & A. E. Kazdin (Eds), Child-focused treatment for anxiety. 3rd edn. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  40. Kennedy, S. M., & Ehrenreich-May, J. (2017). Assessment of emotional avoidance in adolescents: Psychometric properties of a new multidimensional measure. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 39(2), 279–290.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-016-9581-7.Google Scholar
  41. Kline, R. B. (2010). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. 3rd edn. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  42. Kochenderfer, B. J., & Ladd, G. W. (1997). Victimized children’s responses to peers’ aggression: Behaviors associated with reduced versus continued victimization. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 59–73.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579497001065.Google Scholar
  43. Little, T. D. (2013). Longitudinal structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  44. Lowe, P. A. (2015). The revised children’s manifest anxiety scale–second edition short form: Examination of the psychometric properties of a brief measure of general anxiety in a sample of children and adolescents. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33(8), 719–730.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0734282915580763.Google Scholar
  45. MacDermott, S. T., Gullone, E., Allen, J. S., King, N. J., & Tonge, B. (2010). The emotion regulation index for children and adolescents (ERICA): a psychometric investigation. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 32(3), 301–314.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-009-9154-0.Google Scholar
  46. Macklem, G. L. (2008). The importance of emotional regulation in child and adolescent functioning and school success. In Practitioner’s guide to emotion regulation in school-aged children (pp. 1–12). US: Springer.Google Scholar
  47. McLaughlin, K. A., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Hilt, L. M. (2009). Emotion dysregulation as a mechanism linking peer victimization to internalizing symptoms in adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(5), 894.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015760.Google Scholar
  48. Panak, W. F., & Garber, J. (1992). Role of aggression, rejection, and attributions in the prediction of depression in children. Development and Psychopathology, 4(1), 145–165.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579400005617.Google Scholar
  49. Papafratzeskakou, E., Kim, J., Longo, G. S., & Riser, D. K. (2011). Peer victimization and depressive symptoms: role of peers and parent–child relationship. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 20(7), 784–799.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2011.608220.Google Scholar
  50. Prinstein, M. J., Boergers, J., & Vernberg, E. M. (2001). Overt and relational aggression in adolescents: Social-psychological adjustment of aggressors and victims. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30(4), 479–491.  https://doi.org/10.1207/S15374424JCCP3004_05.Google Scholar
  51. Roecker Phelps, C. E. (2001). Children’s responses to overt and relational aggression. Journal of Clinical and Child Psychology, 30, 240–252.  https://doi.org/10.1207/S15374424JCCP3002_11.Google Scholar
  52. Rose, A. J., & Rudolph, K. D. (2006). A review of sex differences in peer relationship processes: potential trade-offs for the emotional and behavioral development of girls and boys. Psychological Bulletin, 132(1), 98.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.98.Google Scholar
  53. Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (2010). Ensuring positiveness of the scaled difference chi-square test statistic. Psychometrika, 75(2), 243–248.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11336-009-9135-y.Google Scholar
  54. Sigurdson, J. F., Undheim, A. M., Wallander, J. L., Lydersen, S., & Sund, A. M. (2015). The long-term effects of being bullied or a bully in adolescence on externalizing and internalizing mental health problems in adulthood. Child Adolescent Psychiatry Mental Health, 9, 42.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-015-0075-2.Google Scholar
  55. Smith, P. K., Talamelli, L., Cowie, H., Naylor, P., & Chauhan, P. (2004). Profiles of non-victims, escaped victims, continuing victims and new victims of school bullying. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(4), 565–581.  https://doi.org/10.1348/0007099042376427.Google Scholar
  56. Southam-Gerow, M. A., & Kendall, P. C. (2002). Emotion regulation and understanding: Implications for child psychopathology and therapy. Clinical Psychology Review, 22(2), 189–222.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0272-7358(01)00087-3.Google Scholar
  57. Troy, A. S., Wilhelm, F. H., Shallcross, A. J., & Mauss, I. B. (2010). Seeing the silver lining: cognitive reappraisal ability moderates the relationship between stress and depressive symptoms. Emotion, 10(6), 783.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0020262.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations