The relationship between anxiety and self-perceived competence in children

Staci Beth Friedman, Pace University


Anxiety is a construct that is multifaceted and can be considered from many different theoretical perspectives. There are many factors that have been shown to be associated with anxiety disorders in children and adolescents such as attachment, locus of control, depression, and self-perceived competence. Self-perceived competence is defined as the way in which a person views their own abilities. The idea of self-perceived competency can be considered in different areas such as peer acceptance, global self worth, behavioral conduct, physical appearance, athletic competence, and academic competence. Research has shown that self-perceived competence is a variable that is predictive of learning, perceived control, intrinsic motivation, and increased chronic stress. Furthermore, self-perceived competence has been known to predict depressive symptomatology in children and adolescents. Previous research has shown a correlation between anxiety and self-perceived competence in adults, as well as in children and adolescents, especially in specific areas. However, studies on this association are sparse, especially when considering children in the latency stage of development. During this stage, children are rule bound, and concerned with the opinions of authority figures. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between anxiety and self-perceived competence in latency age children and consider the results with regard to previous research with adolescents and adults. Gender differences and developmental considerations are also considered within this study. Results of the study show that a significant negative correlation exists between anxiety and self-perceived competence, with no significant gender differences. The interaction between gender and anxiety is discovered to be a unique predictor of self-perceived competence. Correlations between different facets of anxiety and areas of self-perceived competence also were identified and discussed. This research has several implications for individual, group, and school based interventions. The results suggest that it may be beneficial to target those children who are potentially at risk for an anxiety disorder. Identification may lead to the creation of self-esteem programs in the schools for young children, rather than waiting until adolescence. Finally, there are a number of research implications which emerge from this study, such as defining the developmental patterns of self-perceived competence and anxiety from a young age throughout adolescence and adulthood.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Friedman, Staci Beth, "The relationship between anxiety and self-perceived competence in children" (2003). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3065646.



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