Background: Social-emotional and language development appear to interact during early childhood. Children with language delays/disorders tend to exhibit more behavior problems than children without language delays/disorders. In addition, knowledge and use of internal state words has been found to predict self-regulation in young children. Young children at social risk experience an increased probability of language delays/disorders as well as behavior problems. The purpose of this study was to explore whether expressive language skills in general and knowledge and use of internal state words in particular are related to behavior problems in young children at social risk.
Methods: A total of 59 3-to-5-year-old monolingual English-speaking participants who attended one of four preschool sites serving low income families completed the study protocol. Two of the four participating sites accepted child referrals from programs serving families experiencing identified social risk factors (i.e., addiction, child maltreatment). Information gathered for each of the 59 children included overall expressive language skills, internal state word knowledge and use, nonverbal intelligence, teacher behavior problem ratings, and noncompliance to teacher directives.
Results: Expressive language skills were negatively associated with behavior problems as rated by teachers and measured by noncompliance to teacher directives. Expressive language skills negatively predicted both measures of behavior problems, controlling for preschool program and nonverbal intelligence. Knowledge and use of internal state words did not appear to be related to behavior problems when controlling for overall expressive language skills.
Conclusion: Results suggest an inverse relationship between expressive language skills and behavior problems in young children at social risk.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2013. Major: Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. Advisor: Dr. Kathryn Kohnert. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 144 pages, appendices A-G.
Wing, Christine A..
The relationship between expressive language skills, internal state words, and classroom behavior problems in young children at social risk.
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