Does gender moderate the association between children's behaviour and teacher-child relationship in the early years?
Cambridge University Press
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Child Health Promotion Research Centre
Prior research has shown that teacher-child relationship quality predicts school emotional wellbeing and academic engagement, but it is unclear whether the relationship quality reflects teachers' perceptions of children's social-emotional behaviours differently for girls and for boys. The purpose of this study was to examine whether teachers' reports of relationship quality were differentially associated with children's behaviours depending on child gender. Teachers provided behavioural reports and ratings of closeness and conflict for children from kindergarten (n = 598), pre-primary (n = 496), and year 1 (n = 451). Of 19 significant associations, only 5 were moderated by gender, including hyperactivity and emotional problems. The findings suggest that, primarily, gender does not moderate how teachers' perceptions of behaviours correlate with their ratings of relationship quality, but that gender role expectations may affect teacher-child relationship quality in some behavioural domains. Suggestions for counsellors working with teachers are presented that target teacher self-reflection on gender expectations, behavioural expectations and their intersection, to improve teacher-child relationship quality.