Children's ability to manage emotions is linked to that of their parents

Children’s ability to manage emotions is linked to that of their parents

Problems when talking, communicating and expressing feelings are common among children and adolescents, in particular at an early age. These difficulties increase in the case of those diagnosed with developmental language disorder, which affects approximately 7% of the child population.

A recent study published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology, by researchers from the Cognition and Language Research Group (GRECIL), included in the eHealth Center at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the University of Barcelona (UB), has analysed the existence of differences in emotional regulation in children and adolescents who have been diagnosed with specific language impairment / developmental language disorder (SLI/DLD). “There are still few studies that assess the emotional and social dimension of the child and adolescent population with SLI/DLD, which is why we wanted to delve into the study of emotional regulation in this population,” said Nadia Ahufinger, lead co-author of the research along with Mari Aguilera, an expert from the University of Barcelona.

It is estimated that one in 14 children has developmental language disorder. The language difficulties of children with this disorder are not the result of other conditions (such as intellectual disabilities or disorders like Down’s syndrome), but they do affect the children’s social and/or academic development and have an impact on their day-to-day activities.

Having conducted three studies on more than fifty children and adolescents in which aspects such as expressive and receptive vocabulary were assessed, the authors concluded that emotional regulation between girls and boys with and without SLI/DLD is similar both in childhood and adolescence. There is, however, a tendency for those with SLI/DLD in childhood to have greater difficulty regulating their emotions.

“When analysing the relationship between language and emotional regulation, we observed that the expressive vocabulary that children have at 5-7 years of age predicts their emotional regulation 4 years later, a relationship not seen during adolescence,” said Aguilera, adding that having a richer and broader vocabulary helps to clarify, understand and regulate emotions during childhood.

“When analysing the relationship between language and emotional regulation, we observed that the expressive vocabulary that children have at 5-7 years of age predicts their emotional regulation 4 years later, a relationship not seen during adolescence,” said Aguilera, adding that having a richer and broader vocabulary helps to clarify, understand and regulate emotions during childhood.

The importance of the environment

Likewise, the research also considered aspects such as the environment in which children grow up and develop, both during their childhood and adolescence, which is why the role of parents in the emotional development of their children was analysed.

How the parents regulate their emotions is a very important factor in explaining their children’s ability to deal with emotions during childhood. However, it seems that, during adolescence, the influence of parental emotional regulation diminishes significantly,” the authors said.

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