Longitudinal Study of Young Children's Responses to Challenging Achievement Situations



Three studies were conducted to replicate and extend Dweck's findings regarding young children's responses to challenging achievement situations. Dweck's dichotomous helplessness classification system (i.e., task choice, task choice reason) was replicated with kindergartners, n= 235 (50% male), and first graders, n=70 (46% male). To test whether individual differences in young children's responses to challenging situations are stable over time, 1- and 5-year follow-ups of the kindergartners were conducted. On the basis of children's responses on age-appropriate behavioral tasks, a composite of cognitive, behavioral, and affective helplessness indices predicted helplessness at 1 and 5 years later, n= 114 (50% male), above and beyond kindergarten task ability and gender, p < .05. Kindergarten helplessness predicted teacher ratings of children's helplessness 5 years later as well, p < .05. The implications of these findings for early intervention are discussed.