European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 3–15 | Cite as

Emotional symptoms from kindergarten to middle childhood: associations with self- and other-oriented social skills

  • Maureen Groeben
  • Sonja PerrenEmail author
  • Stephanie Stadelmann
  • Kai von Klitzing
Original Contribution


The study investigated the interactive impact of different dimensions of social skills on children’s emotional symptoms. We differentiate between self-oriented social skills which focus on considering own goals and needs in social interactions (assertiveness, social participation) and other-oriented social skills which focus on considering other’s goals and needs (pro-social and cooperative behavior). 167 children participated in the study at the ages of 5, 6, and 9 years. A multi-informant approach (parents, teacher, and child) was employed to assess children’s psychopathology. Teachers rated children’s social skills. The study demonstrated the importance of deficits in self-oriented social skills for the development of emotional symptoms. Low levels of assertiveness predicted later emotional symptoms. In children with low levels of pro-social behavior, high assertiveness protected from emotional problems. In contrast, high levels of pro-social behavior emerged as a risk factor for later emotional symptoms, especially when is goes along with low levels of social participation.


Emotional symptoms Social skills Pro-social behavior Assertiveness Social participation Middle childhood 



This study was supported by grants of the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant-No 32-66778.01, Grant-No 325100-112672/19), the Freie Akademische Gesellschaft Basel and the Novartis-Stiftung. Kai von Klitzing’s work is also supported by the German Research Association (Grant-No KL2315/1-1).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maureen Groeben
    • 1
  • Sonja Perren
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephanie Stadelmann
    • 2
  • Kai von Klitzing
    • 2
  1. 1.Jacobs Center for Productive Youth DevelopmentUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and PsychosomaticsUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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