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01-01-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2015

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2015

Emotion Understanding (and Misunderstanding) in Clinically Referred Preschoolers: The Role of Child Language and Maternal Depressive Symptoms

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2015
Auteurs:
Sarah E. Martin, Lauren R. Williamson, Evangeline C. Kurtz-Nelson, John R. Boekamp

Abstract

There is growing evidence to suggest that children with mental health problems have difficulties in emotion understanding, including particular biases in their processing of emotion information. However, less is known about the specific developmental and socialization processes that may contribute to difficulties in emotion understanding in young children with emotional and behavioral problems. The present study examines the roles of child receptive language and maternal depressive symptoms in predicting emotion understanding in clinically referred preschoolers. Participants were 79 preschool-aged children (3–5 years of age) who were admitted to a psychiatric day treatment program for young children and their families. Children participated in assessments of receptive language skills and emotion understanding and mothers completed self-report measures of depressive symptoms and child behavior problems. Children’s receptive language skills were positively associated with accuracy in identifying happy, sad, angry, and scared emotions, whereas maternal depressive symptoms were specifically linked to children’s biased perceptions of sadness. Findings underscore the role of both child and family factors as related to individual differences in emotion understanding in clinically referred preschoolers, with implications for developmentally informed and emotion-focused approaches to treatment of early childhood psychopathology.

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