Ministry of Health Thursday 23 September 2010, 4:16PM
Media release from Ministry of Health
Most New Zealand preschoolers are well-adjusted, and few have
difficulties with their emotions, behaviour, or concentration, or
in getting along with others, data from the B4 School Checks
"Overall, the social and emotional well-being of New Zealand
preschoolers is good. For the majority of children, no major
emotional and behavioural concerns were identified by the Strengths
and Difficulties Questionnaire," Dr Pat Tuohy, the Ministry of
Health's Chief Advisor on Child and Youth Health, told delegates to
the Public Health Association's annual conference today.
The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is an
internationally validated measure designed to get a picture of a
child's strengths and difficulties in the emotional and behavioural
area. The questionnaire is being used as part of the B4
School Check to assess a child's social and emotional development.
One version of the questionnaire is filled out by parents and
another by teachers in order to get two views of a child's social
and emotional development.
Citing B4School check data, Dr Tuohy said New Zealand preschoolers
are "able to get along well with their peers, manage their
behaviour and emotions, pay attention, and show appropriate social
responses such as sharing and caring about others."
Dr Tuohy said the mean scores of four-year-old New Zealand children
on the SDQ were comparable to those of preschoolers in Australia,
the United Kingdom and the United States. However, the assessment
does raise some concerns about the higher rates of conduct problems
seen in New Zealand preschoolers.
Dr Tuohy said the SDQ is in the process of being adapted to New
Zealand children. "This provides a unique opportunity to assess the
social and emotional development of New Zealand preschoolers and
monitor this over time," he noted.
Introduced in 2008, the B4 School Check consists of a general
health questionnaire, screening for vision and hearing, and a
standardised assessment of growth, dental, developmental, and
social and emotional health status of preschoolers.