The synergistic effect of poor motor coordination, gender and age on self-concept in children: A longitudinal analysis
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BACKGROUND: Self-concept is a critical psychosocial outcome in childhood that is shaped by many factors. Gender, motor coordination and age have been identified as three important contributors. AIM: The present study examined whether poor motor coordination (i.e., being classified as at risk for Developmental Coordination Disorder [rDCD]), gender and age have a synergistic effect on domains of self-concept and self-worth in children. METHODS: Data were derived from the Physical Health and Activity Study Team longitudinal open cohort project. Children enrolled in grade 4 (Mage = 9.88 ± 0.35) at baseline (n = 1978) completed the Self-Perception Profile for Children 7 times over 4 years to evaluate their competence across multiple domains. The Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency - Short Form was completed once to evaluate children's motor coordination. Participants scoring ≤15th percentile were classified as rDCD. RESULTS: A significant 3-way interaction between rDCD, gender and age was observed for athletic ability, physical appearance and academic competence, but not social competence, behavioural conduct or global self-worth. Findings revealed developmental trajectories for self-perceptions of athletic ability, physical appearance, and academic competence were lowest among rDCD girls. Boys classified as rDCD also demonstrated lower athletic, academic and physical self-perceptions in comparison to typically developing children. CONCLUSIONS: Age intensifies disparities in self held athletic, physical and academic perceptions attributable to differences in gender and rDCD status, however, differences in these domains appear to be independent of children's overall views of themselves.
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