We examined direct and indirect associations among preschool-age children’s attachment-related mental representations of mothers and peer relationships with their early school adjustment. One hundred and eighteen preschoolers attending Head Start programs were administered a story stem completion task to measure prosocial and antisocial themes in their attachment representations. Approximately two months later, teachers reported on children’s physical and relational peer victimization and prosocial attention from peers. Another three months later, trained observers rated preschoolers’ school adjustment. Children’s prosocial themes in their attachment-related mental representations were negatively related to reported experiences of physical and relational peer victimization. Physical peer victimization was associated with poorer school adjustment and prosocial attention from peers was associated with better school adjustment. Children’s prosocial themes in their attachment-related mental representations were indirectly associated with better school adjustment via lower physical peer victimization. We discuss the implications of these findings for future research and intervention on peer victimization in early childhood. (author abstract)
Direct and indirect pathways to early school adjustment: Roles of young children’s mental representations and peer victimization
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