Exploring the development of emotion knowledge in at-risk samples using a multi-analytic approach

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University of Alabama Libraries

Theories of young children’s early social-emotional learning (SEL) suggest that strong self regulation and emotion knowledge aids children in achieving their social goals in specific contexts, including the transition into formal schooling (Denham et al., 2014; Payton et al., 2000; Rose-Krasnor, 1997). Children who are at-risk due to family income or behavioral problems are more likely to have delays in developing these skills, thus putting them at risk for poorer outcomes (Barnett et al., 2008; Belsky et al., 2007; Vandell, 2004; Yang et al., 2018). The present study aimed to expand upon previous research by using both latent growth curve modeling and cross-lagged panel models to provide specific information about the developmental trajectories of related skills in these at-risk populations. The first study examined executive function (EF) skills in relation to emotion knowledge, supporting the hypothesis that there were bidirectional relations between growth in the two constructs in preschool and kindergarten. The second study investigated how emotion knowledge and a measure of social adjustment in school are related, showing that emotion knowledge in kindergarten predicted school adjustment in the high-risk group, but not for the normative group. These studies expanded previous research by explaining the directionality in both overall growth and growth from one time point to the next between these SEL constructs. Implications for SEL curricula and intervention for children who are at-risk for developmental delays are discussed.

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