Childhood social anxiety and social support-seeking: distinctive links with perceived support from teachers
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Social support-seeking is recognised as an important strategy used by children to cope with negative emotions. However, there are important gaps in our knowledge about children’s perceptions of different sources of social support, and the associations that these perceptions have with individual differences in socio-emotional functioning. The present study focused on elucidating the links between social support-seeking and social anxiety in children, with particular attention to support from teachers. One hundred and eight 11- to 12-year-olds completed measures of social anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as a questionnaire measuring social support-seeking processes for coping with a generic friendship problem. Preliminary analyses showed that teachers were less likely to be approached for social support than parents and peers, and were viewed as least available and least effective. However, social anxiety—independently of depressive symptoms and gender—was positively associated with a greater self-reported likelihood of approaching teachers for support. Moreover, this effect was partially mediated by the perceived effectiveness of emotion-focused support from teachers. These results point to theoretical and practical implications regarding the salience of social support in school for children with higher levels of social anxiety.