Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rita Casey


Stress negatively impacts children’s mental health. Specifically, most research has demonstrated an association between greater stress and greater psychological symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, aggression). Less is known about whether stress impacts children’s social-emotional competence, important aspects of healthy development. Children with mental health problems are more likely to have deficits in emotion understanding and emotion regulation than typically developing children. In particular, children with ADHD are likely to have more significant social-emotional problems than their peers with other clinical problems (e.g. depressed children). Parenting confidence could reduce the potential negative effects of stress on social-emotional competence. The current study examined the impact of stress on social-emotional competence in children referred to mental health services. It also sought to determine whether the impact of stress on social-emotional competence is particularly pronounced for children with ADHD. Lastly, it examined whether parenting confidence can serve as a buffer to the possible negative effects of stress on these outcomes. Results indicated that children with ADHD tended to have lower adaptive emotion regulation skills, per parent report. There was also some evidence to suggest that children with ADHD showed greater emotional negativity/lability. Greater parent report of children’s experience of stressful events was associated with lower report of parenting confidence. There was also an indication that children’s experience of stress was associated with greater emotional negativity/lability. This research supports the importance of consideration of social-emotional competence in clinical child populations as well as the potential impact stress can have on children’s ability to cope with emotions.

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Psychology Commons