Mental Health and Well-Being in Children

A special issue of Children (ISSN 2227-9067). This special issue belongs to the section "Pediatric Mental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 32516

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
1. Psychology Research Centre (CIP-UAL), 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
2. Department of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Algarve, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
Interests: at-risk family context assessment; family preservation; positive parenting; evidence-based interventions; well-being in children and adolescence
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Mental disorders are the largest cause of the burden of disease in the world. Evidence is accumulating on the broad impact that the well-being experienced during childhood and adolescence has on physical and mental health across the course of a lifetime. In fact, most of the disease burden affecting adults has its onset during childhood and adolescence.

There has been a growing concern about the mental health and well-being of children, with increasing demand for counselling services and referrals to mental health services. It is well-established in the existing literature that children and young people who experience positive support from parents and teachers may develop psychological resilience. Children and adolescents with higher levels of psychological well-being have higher levels of academic achievement, with high engagement in school life, satisfaction in their later life, and they are more productive workers.

Family factors, including the quality of parental care, can make a huge difference to children’s early life pathways, for better or for worse. Understanding how best to intervene to support parents is a key challenge. Thus, there is a strong need to expand our knowledge on how to reduce risk factors and to promote protective environments.

This Special Issue addresses this topic by inviting scholars to their share findings, perspectives, and approaches, with the aim of promoting child mental health and well-being. Qualitative or quantitative contributions from basic or applied research that will extend the knowledge in this field are welcomed.

Prof. Dr. Cristina Nunes
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Children is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Children
  • Well-being
  • Mental health
  • Parenting
  • Family support
  • Evidence-based interventions
  • Resilience
  • Risk factors
  • Protective factors

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Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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2 pages, 188 KiB  
Editorial
Mental Health and Well-Being in Children
by Cristina Nunes
Children 2022, 9(8), 1212; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9081212 - 11 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1348
Abstract
Mental disorders are the largest cause of the burden of disease in the world [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

15 pages, 522 KiB  
Article
An Evaluation of the Quality of Parent-Child Interactions in Vulnerable Families That Are Followed by Child Protective Services: A Latent Profile Analysis
by Ananda Stuart, Catarina Canário and Orlanda Cruz
Children 2021, 8(10), 906; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8100906 - 11 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2068
Abstract
In the current study, an observational procedure, recorded in video, was used to evaluate the quality of parent-child interactions in a sample of vulnerable Portuguese families (n = 47) with school-aged children followed by Child Protective Services (CPS). The study sought to [...] Read more.
In the current study, an observational procedure, recorded in video, was used to evaluate the quality of parent-child interactions in a sample of vulnerable Portuguese families (n = 47) with school-aged children followed by Child Protective Services (CPS). The study sought to explore if the families presented different profiles of parent-child interaction quality, and to characterize such profiles in terms of discrete behaviors observed, parenting outcome variables, and families’ sociodemographic and CPS referral characteristics. The parent-child dyads took part in a 15 minutes structured task and parents completed self-report measures (affection, parenting behaviors, and stress). Discrete behaviors of parents and children during interactions were coded with a micro-analytic coding procedure. The global dimensions of the parents’ interactions were coded with a global rating system. A latent profile analysis, estimated with global dimensions, identified two subgroups, one subgroup in which parents displayed higher quality interactions (n = 12), and another subgroup in which parents displayed lower quality interactions (n = 35). Further analyses comparing the subgroups determined that the higher quality subgroup presented more positive behaviors, and the lower quality subgroup presented more negative behaviors during the interactions. No further differences or associations were found regarding the parenting outcome variables, and the families’ sociodemographic and CPS referral characteristics. The findings are in line with prior studies, suggesting that vulnerable families may frequently present depleted parent-child interactions. However, given the small sample size, future studies should replicate the described procedures and analyses in larger sample sizes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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14 pages, 458 KiB  
Article
Narrative Abilities and Episodic Memory in School-Aged Children Followed by Child Protective Services
by Sanmya Salomão, Catarina Canário and Orlanda Cruz
Children 2021, 8(10), 849; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8100849 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2205
Abstract
The ability to narrate routine familiar events develops gradually during middle childhood, in increasingly higher levels of coherence and temporal cohesion. Improvements in episodic memory are also observed, reflecting children’s increasing ability to recall specific circumstances of past events and personal experiences. Even [...] Read more.
The ability to narrate routine familiar events develops gradually during middle childhood, in increasingly higher levels of coherence and temporal cohesion. Improvements in episodic memory are also observed, reflecting children’s increasing ability to recall specific circumstances of past events and personal experiences. Even though several studies have evaluated children’s narrative abilities and episodic memory, little information is available regarding the children exposed to risks that justify their referral to Child Protective Services (CPS). The current study analysed children’s narrative abilities and episodic memory performance, according to the circumstances related to the referral to CPS. Event schema representation, narrative coherence, narrative temporal cohesion, and episodic memory concerning routine and specific personal events in family context were analysed in a sample of 56 school-aged children followed by the CPS in Portugal. Children referred to CPS due to disruptive behaviour presented higher episodic memory performance, compared to those exposed to domestic violence, neglect, and abuse. No significant differences were found between groups regarding narrative abilities related to familiar routine events. Results highlight the relevance of evaluating the adverse circumstances that lead to CPS referral, considering the levels of risk and danger involved, given its differential effects on children’s episodic memory development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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11 pages, 288 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Parental Perfectionism and Parenting Styles on Child Perfectionism
by Cláudia Carmo, Diana Oliveira, Marta Brás and Luís Faísca
Children 2021, 8(9), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8090777 - 4 Sep 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 6440
Abstract
Perfectionism is a significant transdiagnostic process related to the development and maintenance of several psychological disorders. The main models of the development of perfectionism focus on early childhood experiences and postulate that parental relation is an important factor for understanding this construct in [...] Read more.
Perfectionism is a significant transdiagnostic process related to the development and maintenance of several psychological disorders. The main models of the development of perfectionism focus on early childhood experiences and postulate that parental relation is an important factor for understanding this construct in children. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between child and parental perfectionism, seeking to evaluate the empirical support of the Social Learning Model and the Social Expectations Model and children’s perception of parenting styles. The present study included 119 children (51.2% girls, Mage = 11.67 years) and their parents. Data were collected through administration of several self-report measures. The results show a relationship between the majority of the same parent and child perfectionism dimensions, thus providing supportive evidence for the Social Learning Model. Concerning the analysis of the role of gender in the transmission of perfectionism, observed fathers’ perfectionism only relates with the sons’ perfectionism, and mothers’ perfectionism relates with daughters’ perfectionism. Our findings allow for a deeper understanding of the role of the perception of an authoritarian parenting style in the development of maladaptive perfectionism. Mother and fathers’ perceived parenting styles contribute more to daughter than son perfectionism. The results contribute to expanding the understanding of the role of parental factors in the development of perfectionism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
12 pages, 301 KiB  
Article
Psychological Distress Symptoms and Resilience Assets in Adolescents in Residential Care
by Ida Lemos, Marta Brás, Mariana Lemos and Cristina Nunes
Children 2021, 8(8), 700; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8080700 - 13 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2099
Abstract
Most studies with institutionalised children and adolescents focus on evaluating the impact of negative life events on emotional development. However, few have investigated the relationship between resilience assets and the teenagers’ psychopathological problems. The purpose of the present study was to investigate differences [...] Read more.
Most studies with institutionalised children and adolescents focus on evaluating the impact of negative life events on emotional development. However, few have investigated the relationship between resilience assets and the teenagers’ psychopathological problems. The purpose of the present study was to investigate differences in psychological distress symptoms and in resilience assets in institutionalised and non-institutionalised adolescents. A total of 266 adolescents aged between 12 and 19 years old took part in the study (60.5% female): 125 lived in residential care and 144 resided with their families. Results found a significant and inverse relation between psychopathology and the perception of individual resilience assets, specifically with self-efficacy and self-awareness in the community sample, and with empathy in the institutionalised sample. Overall, and regardless of the age group, adolescents in residential care tend to perceive themselves as significantly less resilient in perceived self-efficacy and empathy, and they report fewer goals and aspirations for the future. The importance of promoting mental health and resilience assets in adolescents, particularly in those in residential care, is discussed. This can be achieved through early interventions that may prevent emotional suffering and deviant life paths, with transgenerational repercussions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
9 pages, 426 KiB  
Article
Meditation Effects on Anxiety and Resilience of Preadolescents and Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Study
by Alexandra Gomes, Joana Vieira dos Santos and Luís Sérgio Vieira
Children 2021, 8(8), 689; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8080689 - 11 Aug 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3762
Abstract
Meditation has been described as having a positive impact on well-being while reducing anxiety and stress among those who practice, mainly working as a resource to cope with everyday difficulties. As a simple and easy to apply meditation technique, transcendental meditation (TM) has [...] Read more.
Meditation has been described as having a positive impact on well-being while reducing anxiety and stress among those who practice, mainly working as a resource to cope with everyday difficulties. As a simple and easy to apply meditation technique, transcendental meditation (TM) has shown promising results in adults and in children, although more studies are needed to show the impact on psychological and behavioral dimensions in children and adolescents. This quasi-experimental, pre-test–post-test study, with a control group, aimed to evaluate the impact of TM on the stress and resilience of children and adolescents, with ages between 9 and 16 years old. Participants were selected within schools which implemented the Quiet Time Program (QT), from those who volunteered to participate. They were randomly assigned to an experimental group (immediate TM learning) and to a control group (delayed TM learning). A repeated measures ANOVA showed an interaction of time and group on externalizing behavior, from the strengths and difficulties measure. The experimental group decreased on externalizing less adjusted behaviors, while the control group increased in this aspect, after a twelve-week period. TM failed to reduce anxiety and to contribute to resilience in the TM experimental group. Both groups improved anxiety indicators. The results might suggest students were acting upon their expectation of improvement on practicing TM or solely modifying their behavior along the contextual factors, which affected both groups equally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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15 pages, 488 KiB  
Article
Parenting Styles, Coparenting, and Early Child Adjustment in Separated Families with Child Physical Custody Processes Ongoing in Family Court
by Mónica Pires and Mariana Martins
Children 2021, 8(8), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8080629 - 24 Jul 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 6011
Abstract
Coparenting conflict and triangulation after separation or divorce are associated with poorer child adjustment when parenting gatekeeping and conflict occur. Fewer studies reported psychosocial adjustment of children under three. We explored the effects of authoritarian and permissive parenting styles and negative coparenting on [...] Read more.
Coparenting conflict and triangulation after separation or divorce are associated with poorer child adjustment when parenting gatekeeping and conflict occur. Fewer studies reported psychosocial adjustment of children under three. We explored the effects of authoritarian and permissive parenting styles and negative coparenting on child adjustment in a purpose sample of 207 Portuguese newly separated/divorced parents (50.2% mothers/49.8% fathers) with sole or joint (49.8%/50.2%) physical custody processes ongoing in court. Parents filled out the Parenting Styles Questionnaire—Parents’ report, the Coparenting Questionnaire, and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Parenting and coparenting moderations path analysis to predict child adjustment were tested for two groups (2/3-year-old child/>3-year-old-child) and showed a good fit, followed by multigroup path analysis with similarities. Findings suggest harsh parenting and interparental conflict and triangulation as predictors for poor early child adjustment. The ongoing custody process could contribute to increased interparental conflict. The families’ unique functioning, parenting, and conflict should be considered in young children custody decisions made in a particularly stressful period when the parental responsibilities’ process is still ongoing and conflict may increase to serve the best interest of the child and promote healthy development. Future directions and practical implications are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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11 pages, 243 KiB  
Article
The Association between Parental Support and Adolescents’ Psychological Complaints: The Mediating Role of a Good School Climate
by Joacim Ramberg
Children 2021, 8(7), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8070550 - 25 Jun 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1967
Abstract
Parental support is an important factor affecting young people’s mental well-being, but the school climate also plays an important role. However, few studies have previously examined whether the school climate serves as a mediator for adolescents’ mental health problems. This study aimed to [...] Read more.
Parental support is an important factor affecting young people’s mental well-being, but the school climate also plays an important role. However, few studies have previously examined whether the school climate serves as a mediator for adolescents’ mental health problems. This study aimed to investigate the association between parental support and students’ psychological complaints, while also examining the possible mediating role that a good school climate may have. Data derives from 5783 senior-level students (age 15–16) distributed over 152 school units in Stockholm municipality. Regression linear analysis was used for the analysis and Baron and Kenny’s four-step mediation model has been applied. Sobel’s test was conducted in order to test the significance of the mediation effect. The results show that there is a significant negative association between parental support and students’ psychological complaints, and that school climate has a mediating role in this association. It can be concluded that school climate has a partly mediating role in the association between parental support and students’ psychological complaints. Therefore, it seems important to develop the school climate in order to strengthen this source of support to reduce mental health problems among adolescents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
12 pages, 295 KiB  
Article
School Satisfaction and Happiness in 10-Year-Old Children from Seven European Countries
by Diego Gómez-Baya, Francisco José García-Moro, Alicia Muñoz-Silva and Nuria Martín-Romero
Children 2021, 8(5), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8050370 - 8 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3205
Abstract
School satisfaction is conceptualized as a crucial factor influencing children´s happiness and consequent healthy functioning in multiple developmental areas. Research to date has mainly evaluated how contextual factors related to the interactions between the student, teachers and classmates influence children’s happiness, not considering [...] Read more.
School satisfaction is conceptualized as a crucial factor influencing children´s happiness and consequent healthy functioning in multiple developmental areas. Research to date has mainly evaluated how contextual factors related to the interactions between the student, teachers and classmates influence children’s happiness, not considering other important factors more related to their own student experiences. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of school satisfaction on happiness in 10-year-old children from Europe. Children’s global school satisfaction levels, as well as different separate indicators of school satisfaction (i.e., satisfaction with other children in class; school marks; school life experience as a student; things they have learned; and relationships with teachers) were considered. The study comprised a sample of 7.445 10-year-old children from seven European countries. First, correlation analysis showed that the overall school satisfaction measure, as well as its different indicators, had positive associations with happiness levels. Second, regression analyses confirmed the effect by indicators of global school satisfaction on happiness. The indicators with the strongest effects were the satisfaction with their life as a student and the satisfaction with other children in the class, while the smallest effects were found regarding the satisfaction with the relationships with teachers and the things learned. These results point out the need to consider personal and contextual indicators of school satisfaction in a program design to foster happiness in 10-year-old children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
18 pages, 846 KiB  
Article
Boredom in Adolescence: Validation of the Italian Version of the Multidimensional State Boredom Scale (MSBS) in Adolescents
by Andrea Spoto, Sara Iannattone, Perla Valentini, Alessia Raffagnato, Marina Miscioscia and Michela Gatta
Children 2021, 8(4), 314; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8040314 - 20 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4891
Abstract
Boredom in adolescence is often underestimated, although it may be the sign of a profound unease or be associated with psychological disorders. Given the complexity of the construct of boredom and its increasing prevalence among adolescents in recent years, the present study aimed [...] Read more.
Boredom in adolescence is often underestimated, although it may be the sign of a profound unease or be associated with psychological disorders. Given the complexity of the construct of boredom and its increasing prevalence among adolescents in recent years, the present study aimed to validate the factorial structure of the Italian version of the Multidimensional State Boredom Scale (MSBS) in adolescents using a cross-validation approach. The study involved 272 students (33.8% males, 66.2% females) aged 14–19 (M = 15.9, SD = 1.38) living in northern and central Italy. In addition to the MSBS, the Symptoms Checklist 90-R (SCL 90-R) and the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) were administered. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses validated a 23-item structure of the MSBS, comprising five correlated factors. The tool showed a good internal consistency for these factors and a good convergent and factor validity. The MSBS consequently seems a valid and reliable method for assessing boredom in adolescence. The cut-off for the total score that could pinpoint cases posing a potential clinical risk was 88. A weak correlation was found between the total level of boredom and the daily Internet usage, while no relationship emerged between boredom and age, gender, and grades. Since excessive levels of boredom may conceal a general unease that could develop into structured psychological disorders, the value of the MSBS lies in enabling us to identify in advance adolescents at potential clinical risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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12 pages, 327 KiB  
Article
Examination of the SUPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale among Male and Female Youth: Psychometrics and Invariance
by Pedro Pechorro, Rebecca Revilla, Victor H. Palma, Cristina Nunes, Cátia Martins and Melissa A. Cyders
Children 2021, 8(4), 283; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8040283 - 7 Apr 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3423
Abstract
The UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale is one of the most used and easily administered self-report measures of impulsive traits. The main objective of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of the shorter SUPPS-P scale among a school sample of 470 youth [...] Read more.
The UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale is one of the most used and easily administered self-report measures of impulsive traits. The main objective of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of the shorter SUPPS-P scale among a school sample of 470 youth (Mage = 15.89 years, SD = 1.00) from Portugal, subdivided into males (n = 257, Mage = 15.97 years, SD = 0.98) and females (n = 213, Mage = 15.79 years, SD = 1.03). Confirmatory factor analysis results revealed that the latent five-factor structure (i.e., Negative urgency, Lack of perseverance, Lack of premeditation, Sensation seeking, and Positive urgency) obtained adequate fit and strong measurement invariance demonstrated across sex. The SUPPS-P scale also demonstrated satisfactory psychometric properties in terms of internal consistency, discriminant and convergent (e.g., with measures of youth delinquency, aggression) validities, and criterion-related validity (e.g., with crime seriousness). Findings support the use of the SUPPS-P scale in youth. Given the importance of adolescence as a critical period characterized by increases in impulsive behaviors, having a short, valid, reliable, and easily administered assessment of impulsive tendencies is important and clinically impactful. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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9 pages, 533 KiB  
Article
Family Functioning in Families of Adolescents with Mental Health Disorders: The Role of Parenting Alliance
by Sofía Baena, Lucía Jiménez, Bárbara Lorence and Mᵃ Victoria Hidalgo
Children 2021, 8(3), 222; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8030222 - 13 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3023
Abstract
This study primarily examined the predictive role of emotional and behavioral disorders in family cohesion and the moderating role of parenting alliance. Adolescents’ mental health issues are a major concern, with important implications for individuals and their families. However, the impact of mental [...] Read more.
This study primarily examined the predictive role of emotional and behavioral disorders in family cohesion and the moderating role of parenting alliance. Adolescents’ mental health issues are a major concern, with important implications for individuals and their families. However, the impact of mental disorders on family processes has been less widely studied. Participants in this study were 72 parents of adolescent beneficiaries of mental health services. Questionnaires assessed family cohesion, parenting alliance, and sociodemographic factors. Results indicated that emotional and behavioral disorders did not have an influence on family cohesion. They also suggested that parenting alliance may be a protective factor for family cohesion. This paper highlights the role of parenting alliance as a potential protective factor in positive family processes. These findings support the importance of focusing on the parental subsystem in therapy, and the need to incorporate a positive parenting perspective when working with these families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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16 pages, 342 KiB  
Article
Behavioral Inhibition in Childhood: European Portuguese Adaptation of an Observational Measure (Lab-TAB)
by Luís Faísca, Laura I. Ferreira, Catarina C. Fernandes, Jeffrey R. Gagne and Ana T. Martins
Children 2021, 8(2), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8020162 - 21 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2844
Abstract
The assessment of behaviorally inhibited children is typically based on parent or teacher reports, but this approach has received criticisms, mainly for being prone to bias. Several researchers proposed the additional use of observational methods because they provide a direct and more objective [...] Read more.
The assessment of behaviorally inhibited children is typically based on parent or teacher reports, but this approach has received criticisms, mainly for being prone to bias. Several researchers proposed the additional use of observational methods because they provide a direct and more objective description of the child's functioning in different contexts. The lack of a laboratory assessment of temperament for Portuguese children justifies the adaptation of some episodes of the Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery (Lab-TAB) as an observational measure for behavioral inhibition. Method: In our study, we included 124 children aged between 3 and 9 years and their parents. The evaluation of child behavioral inhibition was made by parent report (Behavioral Inhibition Questionnaire) and through Lab-TAB episodes. Parental variables with potential influence on parents’ reports were also collected using the Social Interaction and Performance Anxiety and Avoidance Scale (SIPAAS) and the Parental Overprotection Measure (POM). Results and Discussion: The psychometric analyses provided evidence that Lab-TAB is a reliable instrument and can be incorporated in a multi-method approach to assess behavioral inhibition in studies involving Portuguese-speaking children. Moderate convergence between observational and parent report measures of behavioral inhibition was obtained. Mothers’ characteristics, as well as child age, seem to significantly affect differences between measures, being potential sources of bias in the assessment of child temperament. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Well-Being in Children)
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