Teacher–child relational conflict and maladaptive social behaviors: The moderating role of children's values

Einat Elizarov, Maya Benish-Weisman, Yair Ziv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Beginning in the preschool years, it is well established that teacher–child conflictual relationships are likely to have detrimental effects on children's behaviors. However, to date little attention has been paid to how certain core child factors, such as young children's personal values, might act as risk or protective factors in this context. Accordingly, we examined the associations between teacher–child relational conflict and children's maladaptive behaviors and asked whether children's personal values, defined here as their broad motivations in life, moderate these associations. Our sample consisted of 120 kindergarten children (58 girls; Mage = 67.53 months, SD = 6.53) and their teachers. Children's values were examined in a one-on-one interview using an animated values instrument. Teachers reported the level of conflict in the teacher–child relationships and children's maladaptive behaviors. The findings supported our hypothesis that teacher–child relational conflict is positively associated with children's externalizing and internalizing behaviors. In addition, children's self-transcendence values acted as a protective factor by weakening the adverse associations between teacher–child conflict and children's externalizing behaviors. Conversely, children's conservation values acted as a risk factor by strengthening the associations between teacher–child conflict and children's internalizing behaviors. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105689
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


  • Children's values development
  • Externalizing behavior
  • Internalizing behavior
  • Kindergarten
  • Teacher–child conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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