1Department of Psychology, University of York
2Department of Psychology, Durham University
Online first: 29-April-2020
Introduction: The association between motor coordination difficulties (a core feature of Developmental Coordination Disorder) and mental health difficulties, such as low self-worth, anxiety and depression is well documented. This study extends existing research by exploring whether this association is mediated by factors such as bullying or social inclusion during childhood.
Method: This study used a retrospective design in which 217 adult participants completed an online questionnaire which asked about their motor skills in childhood, recollections of peer relationships in primary school, and their current level of self-esteem.
Results: Participants’ recollections of their motor skills in childhood was strongly associated with their current self-esteem self-rating. This finding is consistent with previous studies. Investigation of this association suggests it was mediated by participants reporting lower feelings of social inclusion in childhood. This suggests that adults who report feeling socially excluded at primary school are at risk of experiencing lower levels of self-esteem in adulthood. Interestingly, no association was revealed between low levels of adult self-esteem and recollections of overt bullying in childhood.
Conclusions: This finding, if extended suggests that social exclusion in childhood may be a risk factor for future wellbeing and self-esteem of individuals with difficulties with motor skills. This could have important practical implications, highlighting the importance of initiatives offered within primary schools to support social inclusion, especially for those with motor coordination difficulties. Teachers are well trained on anti-bullying tactics and anti-bullying campaigns are promoted to pupils in many areas. However, it is not clear that the impact of social exclusion, which can be harder to monitor, is highlighted as prominently. Further studies should consider gathering information from children and charting their self-esteem and perceived social inclusion longitudinally.
Key words: Developmental Coordination Disorder, Motor Coordination Difficulties, Bullying, Self Esteem, Social Exclusion, School Peer Relations
Citation: Gill, A., Brigstocke, S., Goody, A. An exploratory study of the association between self-esteem levels in adults and retrospective reports of their peer relations and motor skills in childhood. Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities, 2020 Jul 05; 3(1):24-33. https://doi.org/10.26407/2020jrtdd.1.28