Beginning in the preschool years, it is well established that teacher–child conflictual relationships are likely to have detrimental effects on children's behaviors. However, to date little attention has been paid to how certain core child factors, such as young children's personal values, might act as risk or protective factors in this context. Accordingly, we examined the associations between teacher–child relational conflict and children's maladaptive behaviors and asked whether children's personal values, defined here as their broad motivations in life, moderate these associations. Our sample consisted of 120 kindergarten children (58 girls; Mage = 67.53 months, SD = 6.53) and their teachers. Children's values were examined in a one-on-one interview using an animated values instrument. Teachers reported the level of conflict in the teacher–child relationships and children's maladaptive behaviors. The findings supported our hypothesis that teacher–child relational conflict is positively associated with children's externalizing and internalizing behaviors. In addition, children's self-transcendence values acted as a protective factor by weakening the adverse associations between teacher–child conflict and children's externalizing behaviors. Conversely, children's conservation values acted as a risk factor by strengthening the associations between teacher–child conflict and children's internalizing behaviors. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation (492/16 to the third author). The authors thank all who participated in the study and also thank Prof. Julie Lee and her research team for the significant and kind support in the adaptation process of the Animated Values Instrument. The corresponding author, Einat Elizarov, is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship.
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- Children's values development
- Externalizing behavior
- Internalizing behavior
- Teacher–child conflict