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Children's aspirations and emotional and behavioural problems

Moulton, VG; (2016) Children's aspirations and emotional and behavioural problems. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Life stage is important in the development of aspirations. Compared to adolescents, children’s aspirations are characterised as ambitious and unrealistic, and have rarely been considered. Aspirations are related to self-esteem and control beliefs, which are more likely for younger children to be free of societal opportunities and constraints. Therefore, at a younger age aspirations may be a better reflection of children’s hopes for the future. The general aim of this research was to investigate the pathways to primary school children’s aspirations and to explore the relations between younger children’s aspirations and emotional and behavioural problems. Data was used from the first four sweeps of the Millennium Cohort Study, when the children were aged 9 months, 3 years, 5 years and 7 years, respectively. Information from the parents, teachers and the children themselves was used. At age 7 the MCS children were asked ‘when you grow up, what would you like to be’. Aspirations were classified to reflect their occupational status, masculinity/femininity and intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, and by the realism and maturity of the aspiration. Structural equation, pathway, and regression models explored the child, family, and contextual pathways to and from children’s aspirations at age 7. Younger children although more unrealistic than adolescents, already have occupational aspirations for the future. Gender, ethnicity, family SES, parental values, cognitive ability and school engagement directly predicted (albeit weakly) children’s aspirations. Family SES, the child’s gender and ethnicity also, albeit weakly, influenced children’s aspirations via parental values, parent involvement and the child’s ability. Although aspirations at age 7 were by no means the strongest factor predicting behaviour difficulties at that age, low, intrinsic, fantasy, descriptive and uncertain aspirations were related to more child behavioural problems. While rare occupational aspirations, compared to non-rare occupational outcomes were related to fewer emotional symptoms and peer problems.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Children's aspirations and emotional and behavioural problems
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1522668
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