The relationship between anxiety symptoms and behavioural inhibition in young South African children

Wege, Andrea (2014-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Childhood fears and anxiety are considered to be common and part of typical child development. In some cases, however, these fears can be regarded as a serious psychiatric problem which may have a major influence on children‘s functioning. Anxiety disorders are classified as the most common psychiatric disorders among adults and children in the international as well as the South African context. Although research on anxiety in adults and older children has received much attention, research regarding anxiety among young children has been neglected. Anxiety symptoms in young children often go unnoticed and therefore these children are not referred for treatment in time, causing the anxiety to have a major impact on their lives. In order to reduce the possible effect of anxiety on children‘s lives, children who are vulnerable to the development of anxiety have to be identified at a young age so that early intervention and prevention programmes can be implemented. Behavioural inhibition or shyness in early childhood has been identified as a risk factor for the development of anxiety symptoms. These symptoms may persist into adolescence and adulthood if not addressed timeously. The association between anxiety and behavioural inhibition has been widely researched internationally. However, as far as could be ascertained, no studies in this regard have been conducted within the South African context. With this in mind, the present study aimed to explore the relationship between anxiety symptoms and behavioural inhibition in a sample of young South African children. A cross-sectional research design was employed and data were collected quantitatively. The data for the research were obtained from parents and teachers who reported on the anxiety symptoms and behavioural inhibition in a group of 107 young South African children, divided into two age groups—2- to 3-year-olds and 4- to 6-year-olds—by means of two questionnaires, the Revised Preschool Anxiety Scale (PAS-R) and the Behavioral Inhibition Questionnaire (BIQ). Results of the PAS-R and BIQ scores indicated that there was a positive relationship between anxiety symptoms and behavioural inhibition in young South African children, as reported by both the parents and the teachers. Teacher reports, more so than parent reports indicated a strong relationship between anxiety symptoms and behavioural inhibition. No significant gender differences were found with regard to either anxiety symptoms or behavioural inhibition. Parent reports did not indicate significant age differences regarding anxiety symptoms but teacher reports did. Teachers reported the older group of 4- to 6-year-old children to have higher scores on the Generalized anxiety subscale than the younger group of 2- to 3-year-olds. Lastly, no significant age differences were found with regard to behavioural inhibition according to either the parents or the teachers. In conclusion, this study makes an important contribution to the current literature and also for future studies that would be conducted in this regard.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Angs en vrese tydens die kinderjare word beskou as algemeen en deel van enige kind se ontwikkeling. In sommige gevalle kan hierdie vrese egter ʼn psigiatriese probleem wees wat ʼn groot invloed op ʼn kind se funksionering kan hê. Angsversteurings word geklassifiseer as die mees algemene psigiatriese versteurings onder volwassenes en kinders, sowel internasionaal as in Suid-Afrika. Navorsing oor angssimptome by volwassenes en ouer kinders is meer algemeen en het reeds heelwat aandag geniet, maar wêreldwyd is weinig navorsing in verband met angs onder jonger kinders gedoen. Omdat angssimptome by jong kinders dikwels nie raakgesien word nie, word hulle ook nie betyds verwys vir behandeling nie en dan kan die angssimptome ʼn groot impak op die lewens van hierdie kinders hê. Om die effek van angs op kinders se lewens te verminder, is dit noodsaaklik om kinders wat vatbaar is vir die ontwikkeling van angssimptome reeds op ʼn jong ouderdom te identifiseer sodat vroeë intervensie kan plaasvind en voorkomingsprogramme geïmplimenteer kan word. Daar is bevind dat gedragsinhibisie of skaamheid in die vroeë kinderjare ʼn risikofaktor vir die ontwikkeling van angssimptome kan wees wat dan kan voortduur tot adolessensie en selfs tot in volwassenheid as dit nie betyds aangespreek word nie. Die verband tussen angs en gedragsinhibisie is wyd nagevors in die internasionale konteks, maar sover as wat vasgestel kon word, is geen studies in hierdie verband in Suid-Afrika gedoen nie. Teen hierdie agtergrond is met die huidige studie gepoog om die verband tussen angssimptome en gedragsinhibisie by ʼn groep jong Suid Afrikaanse kinders te ondersoek. ʼn Deursnee-ontwerp is gebruik en data is kwantitatief ingesamel deurdat die ouers en onderwysers van die kinders twee vraelyste moes voltooi oor die angssimptome en gedragsinhibisies van die betrokke kinders. Die twee vraelyste wat vir die doel gebruik is, was die Voorskoolse Angsskaal (PAS-R) en die Gedragsinhibisie Vraelys (BIQ). Die groep het bestaan uit 107 Suid-Afrikaanse kinders wat in twee groepe verdeel is volgens hul ouderdomme, naamlik 2- tot 3-jariges en 4- to 6-jariges. Die resultate van die PAS-R en die BIQ het aangedui dat daar ʼn positiewe verband is tussen angssimptome en gedragsinhibisie by jong Suid-Afrikaanse kinders volgens die ouer- en onderwyserverslae. Tog het die verslae van die onderwysers ʼn sterker verband tussen angssimptome en gedragsinhibisie aangetoon as die van die ouers. Volgens beide ouer- en onderwyserverslae is geen beduidende geslagsverskille gevind met betrekking tot angssimptome en gedragsinhibisie nie. Daar is ook geen beduidende ouderdomsverskille gevind vir angssimptome volgens ouerverslae nie. Daar is egter ʼn beduidende oudersdomsverskil gevind ten opsigte van angssimptome volgens die onderwysers se verslae. Die onderwysers se verslae het getoon dat die ouer groep kinders, die 4- tot 6-jariges, hoër tellings op die subskaal Veralgemeende angs as die jonger kinders ervaar het. Volgens die verslae van beide die ouers en onderwysers was daar geen beduidende ouderdomsverskille ten opsigte van gedragsinhibisie nie. Ten slotte, hierdie studie maak 'n belangrike bydrae tot die huidige literatuur asook tot toekomstige studies wat uitgevoer sal word in hierdie verband.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86283
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