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Introduction: The association between motor coordination difficulties (a core feature of Developmental Coordination Dis- order) and mental health difficulties, such as low self-worth, anxiety and depression is well documented. This study extends existing research by exploring whether this association is mediated by factors such as bullying or social inclusion during childhood.
Method: This study used a retrospective design in which 217 adult participants completed an online questionnaire which asked about their motor skills in childhood, recollections of peer relationships in primary school, and their current level of self-esteem.
Results: Participants’ recollections of their motor skills in childhood was strongly associated with their current self-esteem self-rating. This finding is consistent with previous studies. Investigation of this association suggests it was mediated by par- ticipants reporting lower feelings of social inclusion in childhood. This suggests that adults who report feeling socially ex- cluded at primary school are at risk of experiencing lower levels of self-esteem in adulthood. Interestingly, no association was revealed between low levels of adult self-esteem and recollections of overt bullying in childhood.
Conclusions: This finding, if extended suggests that social exclusion in childhood may be a risk factor for future wellbeing and self-esteem of individuals with difficulties with motor skills. This could have important practical implications, highlight- ing the importance of initiatives offered within primary schools to support social inclusion, especially for those with motor coordination difficulties. Teachers are well trained on anti-bullying tactics and anti-bullying campaigns are promoted to pu- pils in many areas. However, it is not clear that the impact of social exclusion, which can be harder to monitor, is highlighted as prominently. Further studies should consider gathering information from children and charting their self-esteem and per- ceived social inclusion longitudinally.