Social and Emotional Competence and At-Risk Children’s Well-Being: The Roles of Personal and Interpersonal Agency for Children with ADHD, Emotional and Behavioral Disorder, Learning Disability, and Developmental Disability

  • Andrew J. MartinEmail author
  • Therese M. Cumming
  • Susan C. O’Neill
  • Iva Strnadová


Social and emotional competence has attracted significant and increasing theoretical and research attention. Drawing on Bandura’s social-cognitive theory, social and emotional competence is defined in terms of children’s personal agency (competence beliefs, perceived control) and interpersonal agency (peer relationships, teacher–student relationships, parent/carer–child relationships, social support). Personal agency and interpersonal agency are desirable ends in themselves and also an important means to other desirable ends (e.g., academic achievement, health and well-being). A bulk of research has investigated social and emotional competence among “mainstream” populations. Relatively less systemic attention has been directed to “at-risk” children. This chapter explores the role and relevance of personal and interpersonal agency in at-risk children’s academic, personal, and social well-being. For each of four at-risk groups—children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotional and behavioral disorder, learning disability, and developmental disability—the chapter identifies personal and interpersonal agency factors that are critical to well-being. The theory and research described in the chapter clearly show that social and emotional competence, by way of personal and interpersonal agency, plays a fundamental role in at-risk children’s well-being outcomes. Following from this, directions for practice are discussed.


Social and emotional competence Social and emotional learning Social-cognitive theory Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Emotional and behavioral disorder Learning disability Developmental disability 



Thanks are extended to the Australian Research Council for funding parts of this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew J. Martin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Therese M. Cumming
    • 1
  • Susan C. O’Neill
    • 1
  • Iva Strnadová
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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