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A Vicious Cycle? An Examination of Child Play Patterns, Emotional Intelligence and Health

A Vicious Cycle? An Examination of Child Play Patterns, Emotional Intelligence and Health

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by David Boyda. Originally submitted for Bsc Honors Psychology at University of Ulster, with lecturer Edel Ennis in the category of Life Sciences
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by David Boyda. Originally submitted for Bsc Honors Psychology at University of Ulster, with lecturer Edel Ennis in the category of Life Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
 A Vicious Cycle?
 An
 
 Examination of Child Play Patterns, Emotional Intelligence and Health
David BoydaPsy304Personality and Individual DifferencesLecturer: Tony CassidyApril 24
th
, 2009
 
Play, EI and Health
2
Abstract
Aim:
To investigate the relationships between child play patterns, emotional intelligenceand health.
Methods:
Each participant completed five measures. The questionnaire was based on Emotional Quotient Inventory, which was designed to measure childhood play patterns. Factor analysis was conducted on the collected data to examine latent statisticalconstructs, followed by Pearson correlation and Partial Pearson correlation.
Results:
Research questions (a, b) and (c) show correlations to varying degrees between play patterns, EI and health.
Conclusion:
Children who have more opportunities to play scorehigher on EI competencies, whilst developing stable emotions which help to promote pro-social behaviours and better health.Keywords: play patterns, emotional intelligence, health
Introduction
Playtime is regarded as the quintessential activity for childhood development as itcontributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children (Ginsburg,2007). It can provide a rich diversity of experiences as it satisfies the child’s curiosity viaexploration, experimentation and learning of skills typically involved in play. Thus theimportance of play and its contribution to problem solving, creativity, language acquisition,and symbolic thinking, has been recognised even by early psychologists such as Vygotskyand Mead (Alessandri, 1991).Characteristics of play has been recognised as being a self-initiated and self-regulatedactivity of young children, which is reasonably risk free, and essentially goal free. Childrenalso have a natural intrinsic motivation to engage in play, essentially creating their own rulesand pretend fantasy worlds, often culminating in the symbolic use of objects (Verenikina,Harris & Lysaght, 2003); as Vygotsky (1933) reminds us, “...it is a novel form of behaviour in which the child is liberated from situational constraints through his activity in an imaginarysituation”.
 
Play, EI and Health
3
Moreover, ‘article 31’ by The United Nations High Commission for Human Rightsidentifies the importance of play for optimal child development, and considers it the right of every child, asserting “...the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play andrecreational activities appropriate to the age of the child...” (Waterston & Mann 2005).However, in recent times childhood play patterns have changed. Many children in modernsociety are now raised in counter productive lifestyles, the consequence of the western styleof living. Computer play, sedentary activities, unsafe play environments, crowed roads, pressure of academic success in addition to parents living an increasingly hurried lifestyle,can only serve to limit the protective benefits children would gain from child-driven play.(Ginsburg, 2007; McArdle, 2001).In a previous study by Burdette & Whitaker (2005) play was recognised as a major opportunity for children to learn from the social interactions they partake in with other children. Unstructured play is accepted as a form of ‘social problem solving’ as childrennegotiate where to play, who can play, where and when to stop, encouraging children tocompromise and to cooperate, thus promoting pro-social behaviour (Lopes, Brackett, Nezlek,Schutz & Salovery, 2004).Also, Burdette & Whitaker (2005) maintain, that the processes within the context of playtime can incubate a range of social and emotional competencies such as empathy, flexibility,self-awareness, and self-regulation. These competencies, often referred to as ‘emotionalintelligence’ (EI) are recognised as being vital for successful social relations in life, andeffective management of one’s emotions is critical for optimal social functioning. Being ableto express socially appropriate emotions and behave in socially acceptable ways is considered by (Brackett, Rivers, Shiffman, Lerner & Salovey, 2006) to be normal pro-social behaviour,and it is for that reason, McArdle (2001) writes “...play must be considered to be a major toolfor emotional regulation”.Consequently, it is worth reflection; do children who have the opportunity founstructured play also develop the ‘emotional intelligence’ competencies to act and behave ina socially desirable manor? Previous research by Petrides, Frederickson & Furnham, (2004)suggests so; that the relationship between socially deviant behaviour and poor social skills areindicators of low trait EI skills, and as a consequence, these adolescents are more likely tofeel withdrawn and excluded, increasing the likelihood of further anti-social behaviours. Thisis a view supported in the works of Salovey & Grewal (2005), where adolescents who scored

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