Peterson, C., & Noel, M. (2012). ‘I was just screeching!’: Comparing child and parent derived measures of distress. Stress and Health, 28, 279-288.
Two studies explored relationships between children’s (2-13 years old) descriptions of how much they had cried and two other ways of assessing children’s distress during injuries and subsequent hospital treatment, one parent-generated and the other child-generated. In the first study, 201 2-13-year-old children’s descriptions of crying were compared to parental ratings of child distress, and in the second, these two measures plus a faces pain scale were compared for 71 2- to 6-year-olds. Children’s self-descriptions of crying were highly similar to parental ratings at all ages, but the faces pain scale had less similarity to other measures, especially for younger preschoolers. Findings suggest that children’s self-descriptions of emotional reactions may be a useful tool for assessing children’s distress for real-world events with no adult witnesses.