The long-term effects of emotional competencies and self-esteem on adolescents’ internalizing symptoms

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Published 13-06-2022
Konstanze Schoeps Alicia Tamarit Silvia University of Valencia

Abstract

Internalizing symptoms such as depressive mood, somatic complaints and anxiety among adolescents are a major and global concern for parents, educators and professionals. Empirical research suggests that high level of self-esteem during adolescents is associated with psychological adjustment and emotional well-being. This study examines the self-esteem as a potential mediator in the interplay between emotional competencies and internalizing symptoms during adolescence. Data from 855 Spanish adolescents (Mage = 13.6, SD = 1.09, 52% girls) were collected in two waves, using a longitudinal design. The mediation model was estimated using structural equation modelling (SEM). Results show that girls perceive and understand emotions better than boys, but they also perceive higher amounts of emotional distress, while boys showed higher levels of self-esteem. Results of structural equation modelling indicated positive self-esteem function as mediator between emotional competencies and long-term internalizing symptoms. Poor emotional competencies and low self-esteem are strongly associated with internalizing symptoms in adolescents. These findings have implications for future research and positive youth development considering that emotional abilities and self-esteem can protect adolescents from experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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