- Wednesday 14 Dec 2022, 13:00 - 14:30
- PhD defence
- Senate Hall
- Erasmus Building
- Campus Woudestein
D.A. de Maat will defend her PhD dissertation on Wednesday 14 December 2022, getiteld: ’Bouncing Back From Stress: Unraveling longitudinal linkages between stress, child emotional and behavioral outcomes, and resilience‘.
What did I study?
In my dissertation, I investigated the relationship between various stressors and children’s functioning over time. I also examined what protective factors contribute to resilience after experiencing stress. More specifically, I focused on the protective role of children's individual characteristics (such as temperament and executive functions) as well as characteristics of their families (such as mothers' and fathers' parenting behaviour) that are potentially modifiable in interventions.
Why is this study important for professionals?
My thesis shows that adolescents who grow up in families with more stress are more likely to develop emotional problems (such as anxiety) and behavioural problems (such as aggression) later in life. It is therefore important to reduce stress in childhood. However, not all children appear to be equally affected by stress. Individual differences were found to be partly explained by specific characteristics of the child (temperament, executive functions) and of the family (mothers' positive parenting strategies). For example, my findings suggest that improving children's abilities to switch between tasks, a specific executive function, in early childhood may contribute to resilience. Interventions aimed at increasing parental warmth and engagement can also be valuable. Moreover, my research shows that it is important that such intervention programs pay attention to the interaction between parents (they can mutually influence each other's parenting behaviour) and to the influence children can have on their parents' parenting behaviour. It is therefore of great value to not only involve mothers, but all caregivers and children in the family in (parenting) interventions.
What can parents and children learn from this study?
For parents, it is important to take into account that children may develop differently after stressful life events. Their own parenting behaviour, in interaction with other factors, can contribute to the resilience and positive development of their child. For children and adolescents, it is important to know that resilience is not an innate trait, but rather is something flexible and is influenced by multiple factors. Therefore, resilience can be strengthened in various ways.