Utilising Harterís (1987) theory of competence motivation, the current study examined the importance of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) on self-concept, self-worth, social support and anxiety in children and adolescence. Few studies have specifically investigated the psycho-social difficulties faced by children and adolescents with DCD. Findings from longitudinal studies suggest that children identified in early childhood with poor motor coordination have persistent difficulties in motor skills in addition to underachievement at school and emotional difficulties compared to their coordinated peers.
In the current study, a group of children aged 8- to 10-years and a group adolescents aged 12- to 14-years with significant movement problems were compared with a control group, matched for sex and age, on measures of self-perception, self-worth, perceived social support and anxiety. For those in the 8-to 10-year age group significant differences were found in the domains of scholastic competence, athletic competence and physical appearance with those in the DCD group perceiving themselves as less competent in these domains. Those in the DCD group also had significantly lower self-worth than those in the control group and also perceived themselves as receiving significantly less social support. Whilst anxiety was not found to be significantly different between the groups for the younger children, significant differences were found in the adolescent groups for anxiety. Those in the DCD group had significantly higher levels of both state and trait anxiety than their peers. In addition adolescents with DCD reported lower perceived competence on all domains of the self-perception profile with scores on athletic competence, social acceptance and physical appearance, being significantly lower than those of the control group. Overall adolescents in the DCD group had significantly lower self-worth than their peers, and also reported significantly less approval from significant others. The results lend support to the importance of motor coordination on the development of self-perceptions and self-worth in children and adolescents.