We tested the hypothesis that the early emergence of helplessness has negative implications for later adjustment, particularly risk for depression and negative self-worth. A composite measure of helplessness was derived from kindergartners’ (N 112; 55 boys and 57 girls; 10 non-White) responses to a challenging, developmentally appropriate task. Kindergartners’ self-perceptions were also assessed in order to control for initial tendencies to report negatively about themselves. Five years later, selfreported depressive symptoms, feelings of self-worth, and teachers’ ratings of depression were obtained. As predicted, helplessness in kindergarten predicted more depressive symptoms, as reported by children and their teachers, and more negative feelings of worth. Mechanisms underlying helplessness and implications for early intervention to reduce risk for depression are discussed.
Kistner, Janet A.; Ziegert, Dannah I.; Castro, Rafael; and Robertson, Bruce
"Helplessness in Early Childhood: Prediction of Symptoms Associated With Depression and Negative Self-Worth,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 47:
3, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol47/iss3/3