Early social emotional competencies as predictors of internalizing problems in Latinx children

Esther J. Calzada, Keng Yen Huang, Alexandra Ursache, Lalaine Sevillano, Nicole Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ethnic disparities in depression and anxiety persist despite public health efforts to reduce them. This study focused on the development of internalizing symptoms in Latinx children to inform efforts to intervene early in this population. We assessed emotion knowledge, social skills, and withdrawn behavior as predictors of internalizing problems from age 4 or 5 through age 9. The study took place in New York City with 749 children of Mexican- or Dominican-origin (Mage = 4.93 years; SD = 0.57; 49% boys) who were predominately (92%) from immigrant families. We found main effects for withdrawn behavior in certain subgroups. Emotion knowledge was not a significant predictor of anxiety and depression. Findings underscore mixed support for the role of early social emotional competencies in internalizing problems in Latinx children and suggest the need for caution in implementing universal social and emotional learning interventions without careful consideration of culture and context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101615
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024


  • Early childhood
  • Emotion knowledge
  • Internalizing problems
  • Latinx children
  • Social skills
  • Withdrawn behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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