Perceived positive teacher–student relationship as a protective factor for Chinese left‐behind children's emotional and behavioural adjustment

Yan Liu, Xiaowei Li, Li Chen, Zhiyong Qu
Published Online:
20 Nov 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 50 Issue 5

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Using cross‐sectional data collected in rural communities of two provinces of China, this study examined the protective role of perceived positive teacher–student relationship for Chinese left‐behind children. The participants included 1442 children with a mean age of 14.13 classified into two groups: a left‐behind group (104 boys and 110 girls) and a comparison group (588 boys and 640 girls). Self‐reported questionnaires concerning self‐esteem, depression, problem behaviours and the teacher–student relationship were administered. Relative to the comparison group, after controlling for age, gender and family socioeconomic status, the left‐behind group was disadvantaged in terms of self‐esteem and depression but not in problem behaviours. As hypothesised, the results of regression analyses indicated that teacher–student relationship positively predicted self‐esteem and negatively predicted depression and problem behaviours for both groups. Moreover, the association between teacher–student relationship and depression was stronger among the left‐behind group, suggesting that left‐behind children were more responsive to the positive effect of a desired teacher–student relationship. Taken together, the results of our study support the idea that perceived positive teacher–student relationship may serve as a protective factor for left‐behind children. Practical implications and limitations of the present study are discussed.

© 2014 International Union of Psychological Science