, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 441-455

The significance of self-reported anxious symptoms in first-grade children

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It is generally believed that prior to the middle to late elementary school years children's reports of anxious symptoms represent nothing more than transient developmental phenomena. In light of the limited empirical study of this issue and its import to the allocation of mental health resources, the present study seeks to provide empirical evidence of the significance of anxious symptoms in children younger than 7. Specifically, utilizing an epidemiologically defined population of 1197 first-grade children, followed longitudinally from the fall to spring of first grade, we examine the stability, prevalence and caseness of children's self-reports of anxious symptoms. Self-reported anxious symptoms proved relatively stable over 4-month test-retest interval. In addition, they appeared to have a significant impact on academic functioning in terms of reading achievement. These findings on stability, caseness, and prevalence suggest children's self-reported anxious symptoms in the early elementary school years may have clinical significance. However, further study is necessary before firm conclusions can be drawn.