Family Stress and School Adjustment: Predictors Across the School Years

Rosalind Murray-Harvey, Phillip T. Slee

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    5 Citations (Scopus)


    There is a well recognised relationship between life events and adjustment but research relating to stress has largely failed to compare the relationship between background variables, life events and school adjustment across different age groups. Two path models of Predictors of Adjustment to School (for each level of school - primary and secondary school) were developed and tested. Data from 207 randomly selected families provided demographic information along with details regarding stressful life events and psychological well-being for both adults, children and adolescents. The students' teachers rated their adjustment to school. Children (and adolescents) were separately interviewed regarding stressful life events, attitude to school and coping with stress. Results revealed a different interplay of factors across the age groups influencing adjustment to school. The Primary school model analysis indicated that more difficult temperament, higher number of child's reported stressful life events and child sex (male) were predictive of teachers rating children as poorly adjusted to school. The Secondary school model analysis showed that a less cohesive family environment, adolescent's reported stressful life events, and their reports of coping directly impacted on poor adjustment to school, while family stress and parent's rating of the adolescent's stress coping indirectly influenced adjustment through the child stress variable. The outcomes of this study help to clarify the links between stressful life events in families and children's and adolescents' adjustment to school.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)133-149
    Number of pages17
    JournalEarly Child Development and Care
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • Family stress
    • Predictors
    • School adjustment


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