Gender differences in protective factors of child anxiety

Petten, Alison M. (2017) Gender differences in protective factors of child anxiety. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Anxiety is a commonly experienced emotion encompassed by nervousness, worry, and often accompanied by physical symptoms such as increased heart rate (American Psychological Association, 2015). Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in both children and adolescents (Reinecke, Dattilio, & Freeman, 2006). While previous research on gender differences in anxiety throughout adulthood is considerable, there is little on gender differences among children. The present study examines protective factors of child anxiety, namely self-esteem and coping strategies, from self-report data (Doyle, 2016) on children in grades four and five to determine if gender differences exist. Maladaptive and adaptive coping strategies were measured using the Coping Scale for Children and Youth (CSCY). Also, a rating of global self-esteem was measured using the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory Revised (SEI). While no gender differences were found on self-esteem, findings showed that girls were significantly more likely than boys to draw on the coping strategy of “cognitive avoidance”. Present findings are comparable to research in adult anxiety, such that women are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety than men, and more likely to engage in avoidance behaviours (Bekker & van Mens-Verhulst, 2007; Kessler & Merikangas, 1994; McLean, Asnaani, Litz, & Hofmann, 2011). However, some of the findings are inconsistent with earlier adult studies. For example, boys use of problem solving strategies (Bahrami & Yousefi, 2011). These results will expand the knowledge of anxiety, specifically among younger children, and can inform the development and implementation of preventative programming.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 12828
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 72-91).
Keywords: gender, child, children, anxiety, risk factors, protective factors, coping, self esteem, cognitive avoidance
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: July 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Anxiety in children; Sex differences

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