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THE CONSTRUCT OF SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE

All individuals interact with others in different social settings. Be it children


or adults all need to be socially well adjusted in order to be relevant in a
particular social interaction. The ability to be able to respond appropriately or
be able to pick the social cues is of critical relevance in social contexts. Rubin
and Rose-Krasnor define social competence as:
"the ability to achieve personal goals in social interaction while simultaneously
maintaining positive relationships with others over time and across situations".
(Rubin and Rose-Krasnor 1992)

All children are born with a predisposition to learn the basic social skills for their social
adjustment by way of observing others in different social settings. Kristin Reinsberg has
identified some characteristics which are the indicators of a positive social and emotional
behavior patterns which ultimately lead to positive mental health during childhood.
How do children start to understand who they are, what they are feeling, what they expect to
receive from others? These concepts are at the heart of their social-emotional wellness. They
contribute to a childs self-confidence and empathy, her ability to develop meaningful and lasting
friendships and partnerships, and her sense of importance and value to those around her.
Childrens social-emotional development influences all other areas of development. Different
domains of development: Cognitive, motor, and language development are all greatly affected by
how a child feels about herself and how she is able to express ideas and emotions.
Professionals sometimes define healthy social-emotional development in young children as early
childhood mental health. Healthy social-emotional development includes the ability to be
socially competent which involves many elements. The ability to regulate emotions in terms of
expressing their own and in turn be able to understand other persons feelings is the key to
develop emotional maturity. Children who have the ability to explore and engage with the
environment and form sustainable positive relationships are socially competent children.
Children with well developed social- emotional skills are more confident with pronounced skills
at expressing their ideas and feelings. They can empathize better with others; manage their
feelings of frustration and disappointment better. There is a positive correlation between school
success and social emotional competence of children
Social-emotional development provides the foundation for how we feel about ourselves and how
we experience others. This foundation begins the day we are born and continues to develop
throughout our lifespan.
The greatest influence on a childs social-emotional development is the quality of the
relationships that the child develops with his/her primary caregivers. Popularity or the number of
friends one has does not define or measure social competence, rather social competence is the
nature of being able to interact and engage with others.
Emotions are an integral part of human nature. Through emotions we respond to life
in many different ways- with anger, happiness, love, fear, and jealousy. Emotions
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influence our thoughts and actions and consequently play a crucial role in inspiring
our needs and motivations. The very construct of social-emotional well being in
children has a subtle connotation to positive adaptation in face of challenges and
adverse circumstances.
The array of researches in the field agrees on certain crucial aspects of the childs
social milieu which are the contributing factors to the development of a sense of
well being. There is consonance among researchers with regards to the positive
contributing factors. A safe and secure home environment with consistent parenting
and an opportunity to express feelings without the accompanying feeling of guilt or
fear are the building blocks for emotional and social well being in children.
Enhancing resilience and positive coping can be of significance for promoting social
and emotional maturity. Studies have proved beyond doubt that childrens
emotional, social and behavioral adjustments are as important for school success as
cognitive and academic preparedness (Luthar and Ziegler 1991). Children who have
difficulty in paying attention, following teachers directions, getting along with
others and controlling negative emotions do less well in school (Arnold 1999)
(McClelland 2000) and are rejected by classmates and receive a negative feedback
from the teachers. The researches on the protective factors do focus on the
dynamic (Luthar, Cicchetti and Becker 2000) process of resilience or adaptability
in face of challenges. I would like to emphasize that children or individuals who have
the ability to change or mould the environment as per their needs for adjustment
seem to be the most resilient and well adjusted in their social setting
Research shows that when educators teach children the key skills they need to
Understand their emotions and the emotions of others, handle conflicts, solve problem
, and develop relationships with peers, their problem behavior decreases and
their social skills improve (Joseph 2003). Emphasis on teaching social
Skills is just one component of multiple strategies to support a child at risk for
Challenging behavior

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE DURING EARLY YEARS


Young children face a vast and increasing array of challenges as they attempt to develop prosocial
competencies and a conciliatory, nonviolent approach to life. Over the last several decades changes in the
way families are organized and function have resulted in less, and possibly lower quality, adult-child
closeness. At the same time, children have been bombarded with increasing amounts of ever more graphic
and titillating violence in the news and entertainment media. Mental health and education professionals
generally agree that it is essential to begin developing prosocial attitudes and behaviors in children at a
very young age because aggression in young children that is not remedied nearly always leads to later acts
of delinquency (Yoshikawa 1995). Thus, they have developed a variety of age-appropriate strategies for
teaching children how to respond thoughtfully and nonviolently to both internal and external stimuli. This
brief presents an overview of effective strategies for use with children in elementary school, a time in
their lives when they develop normative beliefs about aggression (Samples 1998).

Positive and nurturing early experiences and relationship


An attachment relationship is an enduring one that develops during the first few years of the
childs life. It is built upon repeated interactions between the infant and the primary caregiver.
These interactions mainly involve attempts by the infant to achieve physical and emotional
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closeness and the caregivers responses to these attempts. They have a lasting influence on how
the child feels about self, how she thinks and interacts with her world, and what she comes to
expect from others. When the child forms a close and secure interpersonal relationship with care
givers it gives the confidence to explore her environment and learn basic skills in the context of
family, community and culture. Infant and early childhood mental health is synonymous with
social and emotional development of young children and is formed within the context of the
childs relationships Social-emotional development includes the childs experience, expression,
and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships
with others (Cohen 2005). It encompasses both intra- and interpersonal processes.
The core features of emotional development include the ability to identify and understand ones
own feelings, to accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others, to manage strong
emotions and their expression in a constructive manner, to regulate ones own behavior, to
develop empathy for others, and to establish and maintain relationships. (National Scientific
Council on the Developing Child 2004)
Infants experience, express, and perceive emotions before they fully understand them. In
learning to recognize, label, manage, and communicate their emotions and to perceive and
attempt to understand the emotions of others, children build skills that connect them with family,
peers, teachers, and the community. These growing capacities help young children to become
competent in negotiating increasingly complex social interactions, to participate effectively in
relationships and group activities, and to reap the benefits of social support crucial to healthy
human development and functioning.

It involves skills such as self-confidence, curiosity, motivation, persistence and self control
which affect growth, trust and future learning. All of these skills have their roots in infancy and
rely on secure, healthy, sensitive and consistent relationships with primary caregivers. Therefore,
the bond between parent and child is one of central importance.
Confidence, Capacity to develop good relationships with peers and adults, the ability to effectively
communicate emotions, to solve problems and to handle social problems are the key emotional
competencies which a child needs.

RELEVANCE OF SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE FOR WELL BEING OF


CHILDREN
During the past two decades, a convincing body of evidence has accumulated to
indicate that unless children achieve minimal social competence by about the age
of 6 years, they have a high probability of being at risk into adulthood in several
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ways (Ladd 2000) (Parker 1987). (G. W. Ladd 1996) (McClellan 1999); (Parker, Peer
relations and later personal adjustment: Are low-accepted children at risk? 1987);
(Rogoff 1990) suggests that a child's long-term social and emotional adaptation,
academic and cognitive development, and citizenship are enhanced by frequent
opportunities to strengthen social competence during childhood. (Hartup 1992)
notes that peer relationships in particular contribute a great deal to both social and
cognitive development and to the effectiveness with which we function as adults.
He states that "the single best childhood predictor of adult adaptation is not school
grades, and not classroom behavior, but rather, the adequacy with which the child
gets along with other children. Children who are generally disliked, who are
aggressive and disruptive, who are unable to sustain close relationships with other
children, and who cannot establish a place for themselves in the peer culture are
seriously at risk" (Hartup 1992, 1). The risks are many: poor mental health, dropping
out of school, low achievement and other school difficulties, and poor employment
history (Katz 1997). Because social development begins at birth and progresses
rapidly during the preschool years, it is clear that early childhood programs should
include regular opportunities for spontaneous child-initiated social play. (Berk 1995)
suggest that it is through symbolic/pretend play that young children are most likely
to develop both socially and intellectually. Thus, periodic assessment of children's
progress in the acquisition of social competence is appropriate. functioning over a
period of at least three or four weeks are required. How children act toward and are
treated by their classmates (cooperatively or aggressively, helpfully or
demandingly, etc.) appears to have a substantial impact on the relationships they
develop (G. W. Ladd 2000). However, healthy social development does not require
that a child be a "social butterfly." The most important index to note is the quality
rather than the quantity of a child's friendships. Children (even rejected children)
who develop a close friend increase the degree to which they start liking the school
over time (G. W. Ladd, Peer relationships and social competence during early and
middle childhood 1999). There is evidence (Rothbart 1998) (Kagan 1992) that some
children are simply more shy or more inhibited than others, and it may be
counterproductive to push such children into social relations that make them
uncomfortable (Katz 1997). Furthermore, unless that shyness is severe enough to
prevent a child from enjoying most of the "good things of life," such as birthday
parties, picnics, and family outings, it is reasonable to assume that, when handled
sensitively, the shyness will be spontaneously outgrown. Early childhood is a period
of both great opportunity and vulnerability. Early childhood experiences set the
stage for later health, wellbeing and learning. In the past, most of the focus was on
building young childrens academic skills in an effort to ensure they were prepared
for school. However, in recent years a growing body of research has demonstrated
the strong link between young childrens social-emotional competence and their
cognitive development, language skills, mental health and school success.

Social, emotional and cognitive competencies serve as a critical foundation for childrens wellbeing and as protective factors for children growing up in adverse circumstances. These
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competencies are related to reduced risk for academic, behavioral, mental health, and substance
use problems.
However, children experiencing adversity, such as poverty, family stress, and domestic violence,
also tend to emerge from childhood with lower levels of social, emotional and cognitive
competence. Our research utilizes a bioecological, or whole child, approach to examine the
influences of neurobiological stress responses, self-regulation, parenting, family relationships,
neighborhood, and economic disadvantage on childrens social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing.
Play is a central context for social and emotional development in early childhood.

Social-Emotional Development Domain. The social-emotional development domain


consists of the following three strands:
1. Self, which includes self-awareness and self-regulation, social and emotional
understanding, empathy and caring, and initiative in learning
2. Social Interaction, which focuses on interactions with familiar adults, interactions
with peers, group participation, and cooperation and responsibility
3. Relationships, which addresses attachments to parents, close relationships with
teachers and caregivers, and friendships

The competencies covered by the social-emotional development foundations underscore the


multiple ways in which young childrens development in this domain influences their ability to
adapt successfully to preschool and, later on, in school. Social emotional as well as other
cognitive and motivational competencies are required for the children to be able to adjust to their
school environment and be able to acquire scholastic success. In a developmental perspective the
social and emotional aspects have a distinct path wherein by the time a child is five years old self
awareness begins to appear and the children can compare their characteristics with those of
other children and an awareness of psychological characteristics like thoughts and feelings start
taking a shape. During early childhood years ie from 6-10 years the children regard themselves
in terms of their past abilities and remain sensitive to how they are viewed by adults, peers and
other people whose opinion matters to them. The emergence and childs awareness are evident
when the child smiles, feels happy and proud after achieving a difficult task. Self awareness is an
important component of early school success. Childrens self confidence shapes their interest,
motivation and perspective in academic work.
Self Regulation
A child begins to regulate their attention, thoughts and feelings as well as impulses more
consistently during early years. Occasionally adult guidance in terms of appropriate expression is
needed but by the time the child is 8-9 years fewer reminders needed. The child anticipates
routines cooperates and can focus attention on the task at hand. The ability to regulate his/her
emotions and behavior are evident.
Social and emotional understanding
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By the time a child is 6 years old she begins to comprehend the psychological and mental
reasons in a primitive form start understanding how these contribute to differences between
people. They begin to be aware of and understand difference in personality and associated traits
of different individuals.
Empathy and Caring
By the time a child is five year old he/she can respond to another child/persons distress and
address it with sympathetic caring and are more likely to enquire about their reason for crying or
distress.
Initiative in learning
The age of early childhood (6-10 years) is marked by greater initiative taking in learning new
tasks, in exploring and making new discoveries identifying new solutions and persisting in trying
to figure out new things.

Social Interactions
The children at this age begin to take greater initiative in activities ad conversations with peers
and adults in their environment. The children now actively suggest shared activities to their peers
and actively cooperate. Actively seek adult guidance and assistance when in some difficult
situation or any conflict.
Interaction with peers
The children now start to intentionally and actively cooperate with peers participate in complex
activities that involve working in groups to achieve a shared goal and share the materials.
Children are more capable of more complex sequences of play which involves coordination of
roles and cooperation. They can now negotiate with each other and seeking adult interventions
when needed. They have an enhanced capability to use words to respond to conflict. Teasing and
verbal taunting make an appearance by the beginning of 6th year. They learn simple conflict
resolution strategies and respond to adult suggestions. For example children taking turns while
playing or telling another child that he/she cant play with them.
Group Participation
The children beginning 6years participates positively in a group and learns to cooperate as a
group member. The children acquire the capacity to form groups on their own and exhibit self
control. They are motivated to cooperate in order to receive adult approval and start thinking
approvingly of themselves (
). Taking turns and feeling bad or saying sorry if something
happens by mistake. Starts picking up if by mistake spill something belonging to somebody else.

Relationships
Relationships with the primary caregivers are strengthened and in case of a need there is a
greater initiative to take the help of primary carers. By the end of 6 years peer interaction
increases. In case of conflict with siblings or a difficult task primary caregivers or the teachers
help is sought. Helpful positive mutual cooperation is seen like making birthday cards for
parents, friends. Taking care of younger siblings, helping in household chores is seen at this age.
Close relationships with teachers, seeking teachers support in case of a difficult task or conflict
resolution are seen. Seeks the approval of the teacher and cooperates.
Increased friendship with peers and splurge in shared activities with special friends like shared
activities, sharing and sitting together for lunch, seek their company and helping one another in
case of conflict with some other child. The special friends are more positive to each other. .
Healthy social-emotional development for infants and toddlers unfolds in an interpersonal
context, namely that of positive ongoing relationships with familiar, nurturing adults. Young
children are particularly attuned to social and emotional stimulation. Even newborns appear to
attend more to stimuli that resemble faces (Johnson 1991). They also prefer their mothers voices
to the voices of other women (DeCasper WP 1980). Through nurturance, adults support the
infants earliest experiences of emotion regulation (Bronson 2000a) (Thompson 2005).
Responsive caregiving supports infants in beginning to regulate their emotions and to develop a
sense of predictability, safety, and responsiveness in their social environments. Early
relationships are so important to developing infants that research experts have broadly concluded
that, in the early years, nurturing, stable and consistent relationships are the key to healthy
growth, development and learning (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine 2000).
In other words, high-quality relationships increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for young
children (Shonkoff 2004). Experiences with family members and teachers provide an opportunity
for young children to learn about social relationships and emotions through exploration and
predictable interactions. Professionals working in child care settings can support the socialemotional development of infants and toddlers in various ways, including interacting directly
with young children, communicating with families, arranging the physical space in the care
environment, and planning and implementing curriculum.
Brain research indicates that emotion and cognition are profoundly interrelated processes.
Specifically, recent cognitive neuroscience findings suggest that the neural mechanisms
underlying emotion regulation may be the same as those underlying cognitive processes (Bell
2004). Emotion and cognition work together, jointly informing the childs impressions of
situations and influencing behavior. Most learning in the early years occurs in the context of
emotional supports (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine 2000). The rich
interpenetrations of emotions and cognitions establish the major psychic scripts for each childs
life (Panksepp 2001). Together, emotion and cognition contribute to attentional processes,
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decision making, and learning (Cacioppo 1999). Furthermore, cognitive processes, such as
decision making, are affected by emotion (Barrett 2007). Brain structures involved in the neural
circuitry of cognition influence emotion and vice versa (Barrett 2007). Emotions and social
behaviors affect the young childs ability to persist in goal-oriented activity, to seek help when it
is needed, and to participate in and benefit from relationships.
Young children who exhibit healthy social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment are more likely
to have good academic performance in elementary school (Cohen 2005) (Zero to Three 2004).
The sharp distinction between cognition and emotion that has historically been made may be
more of an artifact of scholarship than it is representative of the way these processes occur in the
brain (Barrett 2007). This recent research strengthens the view that early childhood programs
support later positive learning outcomes in all domains by maintaining a focus on the promotion
of healthy social emotional development (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child
2004) (Raver 2002) (Shonkoff 2004).
Interactions with Adults
Interactions with adults are a frequent and regular part of infants daily lives. Infants as young as
three months of age have been shown to be able to discriminate between the faces of unfamiliar
adults (Barrera 1981). The foundations that describe Interactions with Adults and Relationships
with Adults are interrelated. They jointly give a picture of healthy social-emotional development
that is based in a supportive social environment established by adults. Children develop the
ability to both respond to adults and engage with them first through predictable interactions in
close relationships with parents or other caring adults at home and outside the home. Children
use and build upon the skills learned through close relationships to interact with less familiar
adults in their lives. In interacting with adults, children engage in a wide variety of social
exchanges such as establishing contact with a relative or engaging in storytelling with an infant
care teacher.
Quality in early childhood programs is, in large part, a function of the interactions that take place
between the adults and children in those programs. These interactions form the basis for the
relationships that are established between teachers and children in the classroom or home and are
related to childrens developmental status. How teachers interact with children is at the very
heart of early childhood education (Kontos 1997)
Relationships with Adults
Close relationships with adults who provide consistent nurturance strengthen childrens capacity
to learn and develop. Moreover, relationships with parents, other family members, caregivers,
and teachers provide the key context for infants social-emotional development. These special
relationships influence the infants emerging sense of self and understanding of others. Infants
use relationships with adults in many ways: for reassurance that they are safe, for assistance in
alleviating distress, for help with emotion regulation, and for social approval or encouragement.
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Establishing close relationships with adults is related to childrens emotional security, sense of
self, and evolving understanding of the world around them. Concepts from the literature on
attachment may be applied to early childhood settings, in considering the infant care teachers
role in separations and reunions during the day in care, facilitating the childs exploration,
providing comfort, meeting physical needs, modeling positive relationships, and providing
support during stressful times (Raikes 1996)
Interactions with Peers
In early infancy children interact with each other using simple behaviors such as looking at or
touching another child. Infants social interactions with peers increase in complexity from
engaging in repetitive or routine back-and-forth interactions with peers (for example, rolling a
ball back and forth) to engaging in cooperative activities such as building a tower of blocks
together or acting out different roles during pretend play. Through interactions with peers, infants
explore their interest in others and learn about social behavior/social interaction. Interactions
with peers provide the context for social learning and problem solving, including the experience
of social exchanges, cooperation, turn-taking, and the demonstration of the beginning of
empathy. Social interactions with peers also allow older infants to experiment with different roles
in small groups and in different situations such as relating to familiar versus unfamiliar children.
As noted, the foundations called Interactions with Adults, Relationships with Adults, Interactions
with Peers, and Relationships with Peers are interrelated. Interactions are stepping-stones to
relationships. (Burk 1996) writes:
We, as teachers, need to facilitate the development of a psychologically safe environment that
promotes positive social interaction. As children interact openly with their peers, they learn more
about each other as individuals, and they begin building a history of interaction

Relationships with Peers


Infants develop close relationships with children they know over a period of time, such as other
children in the family child care setting or neighborhood. Relationships with peers provide young
children with the opportunity to develop strong social connections. Infants often show a
preference for playing and being with friends, as compared with peers with whom they do not
have a relationship. (Howes 1983)s research suggests that there are distinctive patterns of
friendship for the infant, toddler, and preschooler age groups. The three groups vary in the
number of friendships, the stability of friendships, and the nature of interaction between friends
(for example, the extent to which they involve object exchange or verbal communication).
Identity of Self in Relation to Others
Infants social-emotional development includes an emerging awareness of self and others. Infants
demonstrate this foundation in a number of ways. For example, they can respond to their names,
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point to their body parts when asked, or name members of their families. Through an emerging
understanding of other people in their social environment, children gain an understanding of their
roles within their families and communities. They also become aware of their own preferences
and characteristics and those of others.
Recognition of Ability
Infants developing sense of self-efficacy includes an emerging understanding that they can make
things happen and that they have particular abilities. Self-efficacy is related to a sense of
competency, which has been identified as a basic human need (Connell 1990). The development
of childrens sense of self-efficacy may be seen in play or exploratory behaviors when they act
on an object to produce a result. For example, they pat a musical toy to make sounds come out.
Older infants may demonstrate recognition of ability through I statements, such as I did it or
Im good at drawing.
Expression of Emotion
Even early in infancy, children express their emotions through facial expressions, vocalizations,
and body language. The later ability to use words to express emotions gives young children a
valuable tool in gaining the assistance or social support of others (Saarni 2006). Temperament
may play a role in childrens expression of emotion. (Tronick 1989) described how expression of
emotion is related to emotion regulation and communication between the mother and infant: the
emotional expressions of the infant and the caretaker function to allow them to mutually regulate
their interactions . . . the infant and the adult are participants in an affective communication
system.
Both the understanding and expression of emotion are influenced by culture. Cultural factors
affect childrens growing understanding of the meaning of emotions, the developing knowledge
of which situations lead to which emotional outcomes, and their learning about which emotions
are appropriate to display in which situations (Thompson 2005). Some cultural groups appear to
express certain emotions more often than other cultural groups (Tsai, Levenson and McCoy
2006). In addition, cultural groups vary by which particular emotions or emotional states they
value (Tsai, Knutson and Fung, Cultural Variation in Affect Valuation 2006). One study suggests
that cultural differences in exposure to particular emotions through storybooks may contribute to
young childrens preferences for particular emotional states (for example, excited or calm) (J. a.
Tsai 2007).
Young childrens expression of positive and negative emotions may play a significant role in
their development of social relationships. Positive emotions appeal to social partners and seem to
enable relationships to form, while problematic management or expression of negative emotions
leads to difficulty in social relationships (Denham 2004). The use of emotion-related words
appears to be associated with how likable preschoolers are considered by their peers. Children
who use emotion-related words were found to be better-liked by their classmates (Fabes 2001).
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Infants respond more positively to adult vocalizations that have a positive affective tone (Fernald
1993). Social smiling is a developmental process in which neurophysiology and cognitive,
social, and emotional factors play a part, seen as a reflection and constituent of an interactive
relationship (Messinger 2007). It appears likely that the experience of positive emotions is a
particularly important contributor to emotional well-being and psychological health (Fredrickson
2000) (Fredrickson, The Value of Positive Emotions 2003) (Panksepp 2001).
Empathy
During the first three years of life, children begin to develop the capacity to experience the
emotional or psychological state of another person (Zahn-Waxler 1990). The following
definitions of empathy are found in the research literature: knowing what another person is
feeling, feeling what another person is feeling, and responding compassionately to anothers
distress (Levenson 1992). The concept of empathy reflects the social nature of emotion, as it
links the feelings of two or more people (Levenson 1992). Since human life is relationshipbased, one vitally important function of empathy over the life span is to strengthen social bonds
(Anderson 2002). Research has shown a correlation between empathy and prosocial behavior
(Eisenberg 2000). In particular, prosocial behaviors, such as helping, sharing, and comforting or
showing concern for others, illustrate the development of empathy (C. a. Zahn-Waxler 1992) and
how the experience of empathy is thought to be related to the development of moral behavior
(Eisenberg 2000). Adults model prosocial/empathic behaviors for infants in various ways. For
example, those behaviors are modeled through caring interactions with others or through
providing nurturance to the infant. (Quann 2006) suggest that one way to support the
development of empathy in young children is to create a culture of caring in the early childhood
environment: Helping children understand the feelings of others is an integral aspect of the
curriculum of living together. The relationships among teachers, between children and teachers,
and among children are fostered with warm and caring interactions.
Emotion Regulation
The developing ability to regulate emotions has received increasing attention in the research
literature (Eisenberg, Champion and Ma, Emotion-Related Regulation: An Emerging Construct
2004). Researchers have generated various definitions of emotion regulation, and debate
continues as to the most useful and appropriate way to define this concept (Eisenberg and
Spinrad, Emotion-Related Regulation: Sharpening the Definition 2004). As a construct, emotion
regulation reflects the interrelationship of emotions, cognitions, and behaviors (Bell and Wolfe
2004). Young childrens increasing understanding and skill in the use of language is of vital
importance in their emotional development, opening new avenues for communicating about and
regulating emotions (Campos, Frankel and Camra 2004) and helping children to negotiate
acceptable outcomes to emotionally charged situations in more effective ways. Emotion
regulation is influenced by culture and the historical era in which a person lives: cultural
variability in regulation processes is significant (Mesquita 1992). Cultures vary in terms of what
one is expected to feel, and when, where, and with whom one may express different feelings
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(Cheah and Rubin 2003). Adults can provide positive role models of emotion regulation through
their behavior and through the verbal and emotional support they offer children in managing
their emotions. Responsiveness to infants signals contributes to the development of emotion
regulation. Adults support infants development of emotion regulation by minimizing exposure to
excessive stress, chaotic environments, or over- or understimulation.
Emotion regulation skills are important in part because they play a role in how well children are
liked by peers and teachers and how socially competent they are perceived to be (National
Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2004). Childrens ability to regulate their emotions
appropriately can contribute to perceptions of their overall social skills as well as to the extent to
which they are liked by peers (Eisenberg and others, The Relations of Emotionality and
Regulation to Preschoolers Social Skills and Sociometric Status 1993). Poor emotion regulation
can impair childrens thinking, thereby compromising their judgment and decision making
(National Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2004). At kindergarten entry, children
demonstrate broad variability in their ability to self-regulate (National Research Council and
Institute of Medicine 2000)
Impulse Control
Childrens developing capacity to control impulses helps them adapt to social situations and
follow rules. As infants grow, they become increasingly able to exercise voluntary control over
behavior such as waiting for needs to be met, inhibiting potentially hurtful behavior, and acting
according to social expectations, including safety rules. Group care settings provide many
opportunities for children to practice their impulse-control skills. Peer interactions often offer
natural opportunities for young children to practice impulse control, as they make progress in
learning about cooperative play and sharing. Young childrens understanding or lack of
understanding of requests made of them may be one factor contributing to their responses (Kaler
and Kopp 1990)
Social Understanding
During the infant/toddler years, children begin to develop an understanding of the responses,
communication, emotional expression, and actions of other people. This development includes
infants understanding of what to expect from others, how to engage in back-and-forth social
interactions, and which social scripts are to be used for which social situations. At each age,
social cognitive understanding contributes to social competence, interpersonal sensitivity, and an
awareness of how the self relates to other individuals and groups in a complex social world (R.
A. Thompson 2006). Social understanding is particularly important because of the social nature
of humans and human life, even in early infancy (Wellman and Lagattuta 2000). Recent research
suggests that infants and toddlers social understanding is related to how often they experience
adult communication about the thoughts and emotions of others (Taumoepeau and Ruffman
2008)

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ss.
Language and Literacy Domain. The language and literacy foundations address a
wide range of specific competencies that preschool children will need support to learn.
These foundations focus on the following three strands:
1. Listening and Speaking, which includes language use and conventions, vocabulary,
and grammar
2. Reading, which covers concepts

Role of the Teacher


You can promote social-emotional development in your classroom by embedding your teaching practices
throughout the day. Remaining sensitive to childrens needs helps them feel secure and confident, and
acts as a model for effective social behavior. For example, asking questions to help children find a
solution to a social conflict helps them develop problem-solving skills. Reading a story and engaging
children in a conversation about a socially challenging situation can also serve as a lesson in handling
social problems as well as in literacy.
Be Attentive to Each Childs Needs - Be attentive to the social-emotional skills and needs of each
unique child so you can respond with lessons and interventions tailored to help every child develop their
skills. Your attention and presence as a teacher can be a pillar of confidence for children who are dealing
with stressful life circumstances. Letting children know that you are there to help will build childrens trust
that you are a source of guidance. Keep in mind that children who are English language learners may
need additional support to feel secure and self-assured in a learning environment that is responsive to
their needs.
Early Emotional Experiences Matter - Recognize that the emotional domain is foundational to all other
developmental domains. If children start school in an emotionally supportive environment, they will
acquire the love of learning necessary for success in all areas of school. As young children develop, their
early emotional experiences literally become embedded in the architecture of their brains, therefore great
care should be given to childrens emotional needs, according to the National Scientific Council on the
Developing Child. If you seek childrens opinions, allow children to initiate activities and are flexible about
responding to childrens ideas, youll build childrens feelings that they are competent and respected, and
at the same time motivate their desire to learn.
Promoting Consistent Structure with Play - Providing your transitional kindergarteners with consistent
structures and expectations about appropriate behavior through play activities helps them remember and
follow classroom norms, and behave in ways that are conducive to learning. According to the American
Academy of Pediatrics, Play is integral to the academic environment. It ensures that the school setting
attends to the social and emotional development of children as well as their cognitive development.
Creating routines of fun and meaningful activities such as songs, chants and games can minimize
problems or stress during challenging times, such as when children wait in line or during transitions.

13

Building Relational Capacity and Importance of Close


Relationships
Positive relationships with peers and adults - including parents and teachers - are key to childrens socialemotional development. First, they make school a comfortable, secure safe place where children can
focus on learning. Second, mutual, caring relationships provide opportunities for children to develop and
practice important social skills.
Positive and Consistent Relationships - Social-emotional development is supported through positive
and consistent relationships among teachers and children. Try going beyond expectations of compliance
with school rules, and support social-emotional development by crafting a positive, emotionally supportive
climate in the classroom that skillfully connects new experiences with childrens unique home
experiences. According to the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Children who develop
warm, positive relationships with their [TK] teachers are more excited about learning, more positive about
coming to school, more self-confident, and achieve more in the classroom.

Children are more likely to develop positive relationships when teachers:

model appropriate social behaviors;


provide opportunities for them to develop new social-emotional skills;
give explicit guidance;
offer curriculum that is engaging and relevant to childrens lives and cultures;
engage with parents in a two-way relationship to build childrens social-emotional skills; and
reflect an ethic of caring and nurturing.

Specific examples of productive teacher behaviors include:

showing respect and valuing childrens cultural and language backgrounds;


modeling the polite use of language and encouraging children to imitate your behavior;
encouraging empathic thinking with questions such as, Why do you think he is crying?;
promoting childrens confidence and development of new skills by engaging them in problem solving,
for example by asking, Can you think of a way to help you remember to wait for your turn?; and
attending to signs of personal trauma and providing additional support to children who are
experiencing unusual stress in their lives.

strategy 1: Relationships and Social Interactions with Peers


Strategy 2: Social and Emotional Understanding
Strategy 3: Conflict Negotiation (Problem Solving)
Strategy 4: Child Regulates Emotions and Behaviors
Strategy 5: Engagement and Persistence
Strategy 6: Responsible Conduct
Strategy 7: Integrated Approaches for English Language Development and Family Engagement

14

Strategy 1: Relationships and Social Interactions with Peers


Competency: Child interacts competently and cooperatively with other children and
develops friendships with several peers

Embed in
context

Exploring Competencies

Building Competencie

Ask a child who has grabbed a toy from another to


"use his words" to let a classmate know what he
wants, offering simple words to help articulate their
feelings, such as "My turn, please."

Read a story about a child w


has moved away, and ask ch
ideas of things they could do
child.

While reading, point to the c


story or use a picture card to
child is feeling "sad," and en
students to draw pictures an
that reflect their feelings.

Model

Tell a child gently and respectfully that you would


like him to put his hands in his lap rather than on the
child next to him. To support language understanding,
model behavior and encourage the student to mimic
your behavior, by saying, "I will put my hands on my
lap."

Show an interest in you


lives outside of school,
having a conversation a
did over the weekend.

Give
opportunities
for practice

Have your students take turns during sharing time.


Support language understanding by scaffolding turntaking and saying, for example, "Now it's Nico's turn.
Now it's Ciara's turn."

Give your students gam


Chutes and Ladders, tha
cooperation.

RELEVANCE OF SOCIAL EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE FOR


CHILDREN 6-10
Concept of Social Emotional learning: A review

15

Social emotional learning (SEL) is a process for learning life skills, including how
to deal with oneself, others and relationships, and work in an effective manner. In
dealing with oneself, SEL helps in recognizing our emotions and learning how to
manage those feelings. In dealing with others, SEL helps with developing sympathy
and empathy for others, and maintaining positive relationships. SEL also focuses on
dealing with a variety of situations in a constructive and ethical manner. [1]_(wikipedia)

Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen and worker; and many
risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying and dropping out) can be prevented or reduced
when integrated efforts are used to develop students' social and emotional skills. This is best
done through effective classroom instruction; student engagement in positive activities in and out
of the classroom; and broad parent and community involvement in program planning,
implementation and evaluation.
Effective SEL programming begins in preschool and continues through high school. Goleman's
work emphasizes that children's emotional and social skills can be cultivated, so that the child
will accrue both short-term and long-term advantages in regard to well-being, performance and
success in life. He outlines five crucial emotional competencies basic to social and emotional
learning:
a.

Self and other awareness: understanding and identifying feelings; knowing when one's
feelings shift; understanding the difference between thinking, feeling and acting; and
understanding that one's actions have consequences in terms of others' feelings.

b.

Mood management: handling and managing difficult feelings; controlling impulses; and
handling anger constructively

c.

Self-motivation: being able to set goals and persevere towards them with optimism and
hope, even in the face of setbacks

d.

Empathy: being able to put yourself "in someone else's shoes" both cognitively and
affectively; being able to take someone's perspective; being able to show that you care

e.

Management of relationships: making friends, handling friendships; resolving conflicts;


cooperating; collaborative learning and other social skills
The mastery of these five competencies results in enhanced emotional intelligence

16

Dr. Maurice Elias, a leading child psychologist, researcher and expert on SEL from Rutgers
University, explains the dangers of omitting social-emotional programs from our children's
classrooms. He maintains that "many of the problems in our schools are the result of social and
emotional malfunction and debilitation from which too many children have suffered and
continue to bear the consequences. Children in class who are beset by an array of confused or
hurtful feelings cannot and will not learn effectively. In the process of civilizing and humanizing
our children, the missing piece is, without doubt, social and emotional learning. Protestations
that this must be outside of and separate from traditional schooling are misinformed, harmful and
may doom us to continued frustration in our academic mission and the need for Herculean efforts
in behavioral damage control and repair. The roster of social casualties will grow ever larger."
Emotional well-being is "dramatically and positively predictive not only of academic
achievement, but also of satisfactory and productive experiences in the world of work and
marriage, even of better physical health."

Five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioral competencies have


been identified as core skills needed for a person to be socially competent. The
definitions of the five competency clusters for students are:

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize ones emotions and thoughts and their influence on
behavior. This includes accurately assessing ones strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of
confidence and optimism.

Self-management: The ability to regulate ones emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different
situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward
achieving personal and academic goals.

17

Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse
backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and
community resources and supports.

Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse
individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate
social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.
Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and
social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation
of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

The following 15 skills listed are involved and promoted in SEL:


1. "Recognizing emotions in self and others"
2. "Regulating and managing strong emotions (positive and negative)"
3. "Recognizing strengths and areas of need"
4. "Listening and communicating accurately and clearly"
5. "Taking others' perspectives and sensing their emotions"
6. "Respecting others and self and appreciating differences"
7. "Identifying problems correctly"
8. "Setting positive and realistic goals"
9. "Problem solving, decision making, and planning"
10. "Approaching others and building positive relationships"
11. "Resisting negative peer pressure"
12. "Cooperating, negotiating, and managing conflict nonviolently"
13. "Working effectively in groups"
14. "Help-seeking and help-giving"s
15. "Showing ethical and social responsibility"
18

[4]

Teaching social and emotional learning in schools aims to enhance children's understanding of
themselves and those experiencing mental hardship and to encourage comfort in a school setting
that values the development of knowledge, interpersonal skills and well-being in students.
(wikipedia)
There are three goals for SEL in the Illinois Learning Standards:[7]
1. "Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success."
"Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships."
Reacting with criticism or dismissing the sadness or anger of a child communicates that
their emotions are not valid or appropriate, which can cause children to be even more
prone to those negative emotions and less able to cope with stress (Siegler, DeLoache
and & Eisenberg 2011). Instead, guiding childrens emotions and helping them find ways
to express themselves in a healthy manner helps them continue regulating their
responses to challenges and even aids their academic and social competence. This sort
of emotion coaching greatly helps in reducing future problem behavior in children.
2.
The benefits of SEL can be found both in a school and home setting. For instance, SEL improves
positive behaviors while reducing negative behaviors. Positive behaviours include improved
social emotional skills, improved attitudes about self and others, and improved behaviour within
the classroom. Negative behaviours that are reduced include conduct problems and emotional
distress. Furthermore, SEL skills are maintained throughout life; even into adulthood, they can
help to foster success.[8] "Demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in
personal, school, and community contexts."

Moreover, SEL can help to improve several skills including nonverbal communication skills,
socially compentent behaviour, and social meaning and reasoning. Nonverbal communication is
important because the majority of emotional meaning is conveyed without spoken words, and
instead utilizes paralanguage, facial expressions, gestures and postures, interpersonal distance,
and touch, rhythm and time.[9] Social skills also play an important role in interpreting, encoding
and reasoning social and emotional information that are associated with the social behaviour
exhibited by the child.[10] Finally, social meaning and reasoning are important in problem solving.
Social meaning is the ability to interpret others' emotions and language, and to be able to respond
appropriately, whereas social reasoning is that ability to identify a problem, set goals and
evaluate the possible solutions available.[11]
19

According to CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) the key
findings linking social and emotional learning include improved academic performance and
educational outcomes (including a 14% increase on standardized tests), promotion of deeper
understanding of subject matter, helped students learn well with others, increased student
engagement in school, and decreased behaviours that interfere with learning.[12] Studies also show
that sustained and well-integrated social and emotional learning (SEL) engages students and
improves achievement.[13]
Research reported on the Edutopia site suggests a positive correlation
among SEL and academic sssuccess. Edutopia resources state that a high EQ
corresponds to reduced misbehaviors and class disruption, fostering
enhanced learning environments, as well as developing greater confidence
and resilience in children in the face of academic struggle due to
strengthened interpersonal bonds and communication skills.[14] Beyond the
classroom, CASEL states that SEL promotes the cultivation of lifelong skills
such as responsible decision making by considering impact, and relationship
management by emphasizing effective communication tactics. [15] In
education[edit]
Teachers, counselors and parents can play an important role in facilitating SEL. To begin,
learning social and emotional skills is similar to learning other academic skills. Implementing a
prevention program in schools can help to increase competence and learning in students which
may be applied to more complex situations in the future. Teachers can accomplish this in the
classroom through effective and direct classroom instructions, student engagement in positive
activities, and involving parents, students and the community in planning, evaluating and
implementing the program into the classroom.[16]
Teachers also play a very important role in helping students with the positive self-talk. Without
positive self-talk students can get caught in what they think they can't do. By reminding them to
switch their negative self-talk to positive self-talk or by asking them what their self-talk is telling
them, students are able to re-evaluate their internal thinking. Through using positive self-talk
students are able to gain confidence in areas where they may not have been so confident in - such
as being afraid of going across the monkey bars. Through reminding the student to change their
self-talk to positive self-talk and say "I can! I can do this!" they are once again able to reevaluate their thinking to only better themselves. SEL allows students to identify their emotions
and enable them to use those emotions to facilitate [their] learning and their ultimate success
in school.[17] Continually practicing positive self-talk helps the students to view their life,
schoolwork and ability through an optimistic lens. As the Mind Up program states, Optimism
is a way of seeing life hopefully and having an expectation of success and well-bring. It
correlates strongly with good health and effective coping strategies.[18]

20

SEL allows students to identify their emotions and enable them to use those emotions to
facilitate [their] learning and their ultimate success in school (Schonert-Reichl and Hymel
2007). In their article, Educating the Heart As Well As The Mind: Social and Emotional Learning
for School and Life Success, Schonert-Reichl and Hymel S argue, students do not learn alone
but rather in collaboration with their teachers, in the company of their peers, and with the support
of their families (Schonert-Reichl and Hymel 2007) Through working on social emotional
learning with students, teachers are fostering students social emotional skills [which] not only
helps them to develop the skills necessary for success in schools, such skills assist them to
become more caring, responsible, and concerned citizens (Schonert-Reichl and Hymel 2007)
Lastly, teaching students how to recognize their emotions, both positive and negative, is also a
goal of the CASEL program that was put in place to help teachers facilitate social emotional
learning. CASEL believes that Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has five competencies:
Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, interpersonal relationships and decision
making skills.[21] With these 5 competencies, a student is able to recognize emotions and
emotional triggers, make and identify personal and academic goals, demonstrate cooperation and
team work, and identify ways to resist peer pressure to engage in unsafe or unethical activities.[22]

Parents.
In the article of Parental influence on the emotional development children
(Weber 2014) discuss the relevance and importance of parents parental support can
influence the overall development of children. The study focused on parental presence
as source of emotional well being in children. Parents be present enough to support
them, and this support and fosters confidence and growth in many areas. Just being
physically present is not enough, parents that may be nearby but that are not
emotionally invested or responsive tend to raise children that are more distressed and
less engaged with their play or activities. A study investigating the connection between
parents investment and childrens competence suggests that the emotional involvement
of parents really does matter and affects the outcome of their childs emotional
competence and regulation (Volling, et al. 2002).
In studying the outcomes of Ainsworths Strange Situation experiments, L. Alan Sroufe
found that the style of early attachment relationships predicts later emotional
development of children. Sroufe asserts that, Such variations [of relationship quality]
are not reflections of genetically based traits of the infant but of the history of
interaction with the parent (188). A key aspect of emotional development in children is
learning how to regulate emotions. Children see how their parents display emotions and
21

interact with other people, and they imitate what they see their parents do to regulate
emotions (Sheffield Morris, et al. 2007). A childs temperament also plays a role in their
emotion regulation, guided by the parenting style they receive (Pluess and Belsky 2010).
For example, children more prone to negative emotions or episodes of anger are deeply
affected by hostile and neglectful parenting, Reacting with criticism or dismissing the
sadness or anger of a child communicates that their emotions are not valid or
appropriate, which can cause children to be even more prone to those negative emotions
and less able to cope with stress (Siegler, DeLoache and & Eisenberg 2011). Instead,
guiding childrens emotions and helping them find ways to express themselves in a
healthy manner helps them continue regulating their responses to challenges and even
aids their academic and social competence. This sort of emotion coaching greatly helps
in reducing future problem behavior in children.

It is important to also recognize that the facilitation can happen both at school and
home. Acquiring nonverbal communication skills is important for developing SEL
skills, since the majority of emotions are conveyed without words. Teachers and
parents can improve nonverbal communication skills through the technique of
emotional coaching. Emotional coaching is a technique developed by John Gottman
and can provide guidance about emotions for children through a step process. Step
1: One needs to be aware of the learner's emotions, Step 2: Recognition of
uncomfortable feelings can be a gateway for teaching and guidance An important

factor in the emotional development of children is how warm caregivers are, and studies
have been done to find the effects of depressed mothers on the emotional development
of children. Depressed mothers have maladaptive thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors,
and these, along with being in a similarly stressful environment as the mother, put a
child at risk of developing his own emotional problems (Sroufe 2001). The fact that
depressed mothers are likely to be indifferent towards their children, put them in less
social situations, and generally provide less stimulation for their children, puts the
children at a disadvantage for achieving normal emotional development.
Reacting with criticism or dismissing the sadness or anger of a child communicates that
their emotions are not valid or appropriate, which can cause children to be even more
prone to those negative emotions and less able to cope with stress (Siegler, DeLoache
and & Eisenberg 2011). Instead, guiding childrens emotions and helping them find ways
22

to express themselves in a healthy manner helps them continue regulating their


responses to challenges and even aids their academic and social competence. This sort
of emotion coaching greatly helps in reducing future problem behavior in children.
Learning disabilities[edit]

It is recognized that the majority of children with learning disabilities have difficulties with
social relationships. More specifically, there are three SEL skill areas that can be addressed and
improved for children with learning disabilities. Firstly, it is difficult for children with learning
disabilities to recognize emotions of self and others. However, academic implications to improve
the skill may involve reading or hearing a story and understanding the emotions of the characters
and the plot. Secondly, it is difficult for children with learning disabilities to regulate and manage
strong emotions, both positive and negative. Improving this skill may involve conversing with
the teacher about these emotions and recording these emotions on a scaled thermometer. Lastly,
it is often difficult for children with learning disabilities to recognize their strengths and areas of
need too. Until the Last Child is a vehicle to promote positive connections between school
contributions and recognizing strengths. Also, Ability and Time of Ability is a program used to
help identify strengths of students and then have them work together at set times.[25]

Learn more

Outcomes Associated with the Five Competencies

What is Social Emotional Learning? Parents expect their children to learn reading,
writing, and math at school. But after years of measuring success based on test
scores, experts are concerned that students arent learning something just as
important: the social skills they need to succeed in life. According to the National
Center for Education Statistics, during the 2007-2008 school year, 46% of public
schools had at least one serious disciplinary action, and 31% of schools dealt with
fighting or physical attacks. In response, advocates for Social and Emotional Learning
(SEL) hope to use social skill instruction to address behavior, discipline, safety, and
academics to help kids become self-aware, manage their emotions, build social skills
(empathy, perspective-taking, appreciating differences), form good relationships, and
make positive decisions. In short, says Joan Duffell, executive director of the
Committee for Children, these are the skills that allow children to calm themselves
when angry, make friends, resolve conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe
choices. As the focus on SEL develops, here are the top five things that you should
know. SEL Is More Than Classroom Management. Typical classroom management
involves rules, consequences, and motivation or rewards. But SEL is more than a set
of class rules, a plan to help kids be nice, or a school-wide pledge to be kind and
caring. While those ideas are terrific, says Duffell, they need to be backed up with
23

time that is set aside in the classroom for evidence-based SEL instruction. In a school
with an SEL program, students are involved in creating the school environment,
writing rules, and deciding on consequences. From day one the SEL program isnt an
afterthought, but an integral part of the school day.

Outcomes Associated with the Five Competencies

The short-term goals of SEL programs are to: one, promote students self-awareness, selfmanagement, social-awareness, relationship, and responsible decision-making skills; and
sstwo, improve student attitudes and beliefs about self, others, and school.
These, in turn, provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance as reflected in
more positive social behaviors and peer relationships, fewer conduct problems, less emotional
distress, and improved grades and test scores.
In kindergarten, kids learn about feelings and practice managing emotions through
play. As they get older, students are analyzing literature and history using an SEL
focus, case studies and role-plays. Overall, says Barbara Luther, associate director of
professional development with the Character Education Partnership, a quality SEL
program merges the content areas of history, literature, and other classes with life
skills such as inquiry, active learning, reflection, and awareness of self and others.
SEL Programs Improve More Than Social Skills. Social and emotional learning not only
helps kids work together, it also improves achievement. A Collaboration for Academic,
Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) study of more than 700 programs found that if
a school implements a quality SEL curriculum, they can expect better student
behavior and an 11 point increase in test scores. The gains that schools see in
achievement come from a variety of factorsstudents feel safer, SEL programs build
work habits in addition to social skills, and kids and teachers build strong
relationships. The relationship component is important, says Luther, building
relationships with their students may help teachers be more effective. SEL Might Not
Be Enough for Every Child. Social and emotional curriculums are designed to help all
the kids in a class. The idea of a universal program, says Duffell, is that it starts to
change the norm behaviors and that a rising tide can lift all boats. Still, some kids will
struggle more than others and students who are going through a hard time at home,
or kids with emotional disabilities or ADHD, for example, might need extra help to
learn and use the SEL skills. SEL Is Coming to a Classroom Near You. Recently,
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that he was considering including
school climate in school evaluations under the reauthorization of the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act (ESEA or NCLB). The Obama administration is proactively
addressing school climate, says Luther, and is in the process of developing school
24

climate surveys which will most likely be standardized so that school climate can be
measured. Just as schools stepped up academic programs when reading and math
were the focus, once school climate is part of federal policy, schools will be more
inclined to start proven SEL programs. SEL Programs Depend on Parent Involvement
for Success. Ultimately, says Maurice Elias, PhD, director of Developing Safe and Civil
Schools with Rutgers University, SEL takes place within the context of safe school,
family, and community environments. So, as your childs school starts or develops an
SEL program, you can expect to be involved. Learn more about SEL: The Collaboration
for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) family page The Committee for
Childrens page on hot topics including SEL and bullying The Center for Social and
Emotional Educations parent page.
Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) is a class room based Social
Emotional learning program developed by Mark Greenberg and Carol Kusch (
).
The PATHS curriculum is a comprehensive program for promoting emotional and social
competence and reducing aggressive and problem behavior in elementary school
aged children from preschool to grade 6.
The PATHS curriculum teaches skills in five conceptual domains: Self control,
Emotional understanding, Positive Self Esteem, Relationships and interpersonal
problem solving. The curriculum is a continuum of intervention for both male and
female children in the age group 5-11 years. The grade level PATHS curriculum
consists of separate volume of lessons for each grade level (K-6) all of which contains
developmentally appropriate pictures, photographs and posters. Five conceptual
domains are integrated in a hierarchical manner are included in PATHS lessons at each
grade level. Throughout the lesson the critical focus involves facilitating the dynamic
relationship between cognitive-affective understanding and real life situations ( ). The
lessons are to be taught 2-3 times per week along with daily school activities to
support ongoing behavior and promote generalization. There is ample flexibility.
Each unit focuses on one or more skill domain (emotional recognition, friendship, selfcontrol, problem solving). Each unit builds hierarchically upon and synthesizing the
learning which preceded it. The PATHS program is to be used by teachers and
counselors as a multiyear universal and preventive model. The studies conducted (
) to assess the efficacy of the PATHS curriculum have conclusively shown low rate of
conduct problems and externalizing behavior (aggression). There is a significant
improvement and better understanding of cues for recognition of feelings of others.
The children exposed to the PATHS curriculum are better equipped to resolve peer
conflict, identify feelings, problems and greater empathy for others. There was a
reduction in ADHD symptoms as well. The children had better scores on measures of
authority acceptance, cognitive concentration on tasks related

25

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE


Studies on aggressive behavior, early oppositional defiant and conduct disorder
among young children during early childhood years have been found to be associated
with violent delinquent behavior and drug abuse during adolescence (WebsterStratton, Reid and Hammond 2001) (Webster-Stratton, Reid and Hammond 2004)
(Webster and Stratton 2003, 2005)(?). Absence of interventions to manage aggressive
behavior during early years, have been found that aggressive tendencies tend to
crystallize around the age of eight years. Inconsistent, critical abusive and disengaged
parenting /teaching are the factors leading to higher aggressive behavior among
children (Webster-Stratton, Reid and Hammond 2004) (Webster and Stratton 2005)(?).
Studies have conclusively shown that children who are temperamentally more
impulsive, inattentive and hyperactive often receive less encouragement and support
and more punishment from parents and teachers. They experience more peer
rejection and social isolation at school. Such responses increase risk of developing
escalating aggression. The research has begun to evaluate treatments designed to
reduce and prevent the ongoing development of aggression and promote social
emotional competence in young children. Such strategies prevent the emergence of
delinquency, substance abuse and violence in later years.
The studies conducted by Webster and Stratton on children during early years have
clearly implicated that parent-teacher training programs need to counteract the
parent and family risk factors by teaching parents positive and non- violent discipline
strategies and supportive parenting approaches that promote social emotional
competence and reduce aggressive behavior.
Child focused interventions designed to directly enhance social- emotional, cognitive
competencies by teaching appropriate social skills, effective problem solving, anger
management and emotional language (Webster-Stratton, Reid and Hammond 2004)
(Webster and Stratton 2005 )(?).
Studies conducted on social work students reported that informal support from friends
classmates and family were essential for helping them cope with stress and gave
them a sense of reassurance. Support is an important resource for promoting the
social work students well being (Grant and Kinman 2012) (Wilks and Spivey 2010).
Importance of family support is the most crucial factor for the children of all ages and
helps children cope with stressful situations.
The studies conducted by Fantuzzo et al (Fantuzzo, et al. 2005) to examine the unique
relationship between multiple dimensions of classroom behavioral adjustment ,
problems and social emotional (SE) competencies for urban head start program
children. The authors opined that SE readiness contributes to childrens better
adjustment and success in school. Research documents the negative influence of
social regulatory and emotional problems on childrens early school experience
(Knitzer 2003) (C. C. Raver 2002) (Shonkoff and Phillips 2000). Pre-school children who
26

exhibit challenges in areas of social and emotional competencies are more likely to
experience difficulties within the class-room that affects their ability to develop normal
peer relationships and to behave in ways conducive to learning (Vaughn, et al. 1992).
Research indicates children with early behavioral problems experience difficulties
interacting with teachers ,parents and peers and in engaging in class-room learning
activities (Harden, et al. 2000) (Olson and Hoza 1993).
Ability to interact with peers effectively is the key social competence (Coolahan, et al.
2000) (Fantuzzo and Hampton 2000) (Rubin and Coplan 1998). Research suggests that
children exhibiting class-room behavior problem also experience peer difficulties
(Eisenberg and Fabes 1992) (Fantuzzo and McWayne 2002).
The unique contribution of early emotional and behavioral problems to set of social
competencies like social regulation, peer play in home context and foundational
approaches to learning in the school context were investigated in a study conducted
by Fantuzzo.
The study tested the hypotheses that early negative behavior problems would predict
greater emotional liability maladaptive learning behavior and disruptive social play in
the home environment. In addition withdrawn behavior problems would be associated
with lower affective engagement(emotional regulation) in the class room and
disconnection from play with peers in the home context. sample comprised of
American African children from urban head start programs. The following dimensions
were investigated: class room behavioral adjustment using adjustment scales for preschool intervention, Emotional Regulation checklist for appropriate affective displays
like empathy, emotional self awareness. Negative behaviors in the checklist assessed
mood swings, anger, intensity of positive and negative emotions and the ability to
identify emotions.
Interactive peer play was also investigated, there is a strong association between free
play at home context and childrens class room behavior (Fantuzzo and McWayne
2002). Approaches to learning reflect on the childs willingness or reluctance to take
on tasks through to completion and attitudes towards learning. Concepts like
willingness to be helped, desire to please the teacher, express hostility when
frustrated were some of the social skills investigated in the study.
Relationship between academic achievement and social adjustment was studied by
Chen X, Rubin and LiD among 10-12 year old Chinese children in a longitudinal study
for two years. Study found that academic achievement predicted a childs social
competence and peer acceptance. Information regarding academic achievement,
indexes of social adjustment like social competence, aggression, social inhibition
leadership and peer acceptance were collected using various tools and tests.
The study further reiterated that the childrens social functioning and adjustment
including social competence, aggression-disruption, leadership and peer acceptance
27

uniquely contributed to academic achievement as per the reciprocal effects model


concerning relationship between school success and social adaptations (Hinshaw
1992). Many research studies have time and again emphatically concluded that
children who display pro-social behavior are more likely to achieve highly in academic
areas as well (Green, et al. 1980) (Masten and Coatsworth 1995) (Wentzel and Asher
1995). It has been argued that childrens social competence and interpersonal
acceptance may contribute emotional and social resources for achievement in school
(Wentzel 1991) (Wentzel and Asher 1995). Aggressive and hostile behavior disrupts
the process of learning. Social performance has a significant impact on emotional and
motivational responses to the school which in turn affect the academic achievement.
The studies have indicated that social behavior problems lead to underachievement or
failure in later classes (Coie, et al. 1992) (Masten and Coatsworth 1995).
Interventions at academic remediation have shown positive impacts both
academically as well as socially and emotionally. There is negative correlation
between academic achievement and aggressive disruptive behavior. Social
competence& sociability is the factor positively correlated to academic achievement
(Chen, Rubin and Li 1997).

SOCIAL- EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE OF CHILDREN WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT


HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD) AND LEARNING DISABILITIES
ADHD is primarily a neuro-behavioral disorder marked primarily by impulsivity,
hyperactivity and inattention .this neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorder has
significant problems with executive functions (Malenka, Nestler and Hyman 2009) like
attention control,and inhibitory control. This causes attention deficits, hyperactivity or
impulsiveness which are inappropriate for a persons age. (Malenka, Nestler and
Hyman 2009) (Diamond 2013) (Childress and Berry 2012) The symptoms appear early
in life. Impulsiveness and hyperactivity precede inattention. Research in the area has
revealed that different symptoms may appear in different settings depending on the
demands placed on the childs self control .Many children with ADHD do have a good
attention span for activities they find interesting (Walitza, Drechsler and Ball 2012).
The symptoms vary across settings. Recent version of Diagnostic and statistical
manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR) has identified three patterns of behavior
that indicate ADHD.6-7 percent of the children are diagnosed with ADHD when
DSM IV used for the establishing diagnosis. Symptomatically such children are
often restless, fidgeting with their hands and feet, squirming while seated.
Behavioral disorders characterized by inability to focus or pay attention due to
hyperactivity, Over a longer duration of time have negative consequences
academically and in social adaptation. According to DSM the symptoms have to
appear relatively early in life and exist for at least six months for a child to be
diagnosed as having ADHD.
28

The pattern of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsive behavior have three


subtypes:
Hyperactive-impulsive : the child does not show significant inattention
Predominantly inattentive type: a child with inattention as a significant symptom does
not display hyperactive or impulsive behavior.
Combined types have all the three characteristics of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and
inattention
Other conditions co-exist with ADHD. Learning Disability the child has difficulty
understanding certain sounds and words. A school aged child may experience
problem in expressing self and encounter problem reading, spelling, writing and Math.
Oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorders common in such children. The
child defies authority, may lie, steal, fight and bully others. Anxiety and depression
and bipolar disorders (NIMH).In very few cases where there is some brain disorder
nervous tics are evident in the form of reflective involuntary movements, facial
twitches, eye blinks etc.
CAUSES
There is apparently little consensus between researchers , Pediatricians ,
psychologists and other child care professionals working with children regarding the
cause of ADHD in children. In most cases the cause is unknown, but believed to
involve interaction between genetic and environmental factors (Millichap 2010)
(Thapar, et al. 2013).
Genetics: In 75% of the cases genetics is a predominant factor responsible for
ADHD in siblings (Burt, National collaborating centre for mental health 2009,
Wikipedia ADHD). Studies have found that chances of having hyperactivity and
attention deficit are 3-4 times higher in children who have siblings with symptoms of
ADHD. Many genes are found to be involved resulting in ADHD in children many of
these genes directly affect dopamine neurotransmission (Gizer, Ficks and Waldman
2009) (Kebir, et al. 2009).
As it is a common childhood behavioral problem many researchers look at it as
beneficial from the
evolutionary perspective especially in situations involving risk,
competition or unpredictable behavior (Cardy, et al. 2010) (Taylor and Lang 2006).
Natural selection is likely favored in terms of traits individually as they may have
provided survival advantage (Cardy, et al. 2010). ADHD is more commonly found
among children of anxious mothers and the behavior may be an adaptation that helps
children face stressful or dangerous situation.
Environment per se is not considered to be a major contributing factor but
consumption of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy has shown to be significant
29

contributing factor in ADHD.


Society and Parenting: ADHD can represent family dysfunction or poor educational
system rather than an individual problem (Elder 2010) (Parritz and Troy 2013). The
youngest children in class are diagnosed as ADHD because developmentally the
children are behind other classmates and these children experience violence and
abuse (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health 2009). The diagnosis method
is of crucial importance as diagnosis established by using DSM IV identifies a higher
percentage of children compared to ICD-10 as method for diagnosing ADHD. Thomas
Szaz has argued that ADHD is invented not discovered (Szasz 2001).
Pathophysiology: Functional impairments in some of brain neurotransmission
system particularly those involving dopamine and norepinephrine (Malenka, Nestler
and Hyman 2009) have been found to be associated with ADHD. These
neurotransmitters govern a variety of cognitive functions. The pathways of these
neurotransmitters are directly responsible for modulating executive functions like
cognitive control of behavior, motivation and reward perception (Malenka, Nestler and
Hyman 2009). Brain research studies involving ADHD has indicated that there is
general reduction of volume in certain brain structure with a proportionately greater
decrease In the volume in the left sided pre-frontal cortex (Krain and Castellanos
2006) (Malenka, Nestler and Hyman 2009). Posterior parietal cortex shows thinning in
subjects with ADHD compared to control groups (Malenka, Nestler and Hyman 2009).
Executive functions and motivation: executive functions refer to a variety of
mental processes required to regulate, control and manage daily life tasks (Malenka,
54 ). Problems with organization, time keeping , excessive procrastination,
concentration , processing speed, regulating emotions and utilizing working memory
(54). Motivational deficits (105) having difficulty to focus on long term over short term
rewards and exhibit impulsive behavior for short term rewards (105). Large amount of
positive reinforcement has been found to effectively improve task performance (105).
Social emotional Inadequacies of children with ADHD
Children with all subtypes of ADHD have more problems in social-emotional domains
compared to non ADHD children. Most of these children have problem making and
keeping friends. This happens as they have difficulty reading social cues, not sensitive
to others body gestures and this very often results in misinterpretation of the social
situation. Moreover, due to aggressive and impulsive tendencies they encounter
problems when it comes to sharing and taking turns. The emotional hyperactivity and
impulsive tendencies have a negative impact on the peers as this is perceived as
irritating behavior by others. Physical and aggressive tendencies and inappropriate
reactions in a frustrating situation hamper their inter-personal relationships. Inability
to cooperate with other children in a group activity often results in peer rejection.
The other most important trait of inattentiveness due to ADHD has far reaching
consequences for ADHD children. The academic tasks require the child to focus
30

his/her attention to the task at hand. This often leaves the child having difficulty in
grasping the content and concepts in class room situations. Incomplete assignments,
coupled with an inability to comprehend the topics being taught put the child in a
frustrating situation with a feeling of inadequacy. This leads to aggressive behavior,
bullying, other anti-social and defiant behavior. Low self esteem and socially immature
behavior affects the performance as well as adjustment in their social milieu. The
children have trouble self regulating and experiencing negative feelings so often that
it affects their social interactions and rejection from those who are at the receiving
end.
Many factors contribute to childrens angry reactions. The children with ADHD often
find it difficult to manage their emotions. They are very sensitive as a result feel
deeply and can have a hard time modulating these feelings. They face greater liability
issues as a result moods can change quickly and emotional reactions are easily
provoked. ADHD children have a low tolerance for frustration and/or low self esteem
which are expressed outwardly as aggressive behavior. Inability to inhibit responses
results in impulsive behavior which is simply driven by the intensity of the moment. To
be able to delay a response is very difficult for children with ADHD. These children
become very sensitive to statements even to those with positive suggestions. This is
the result of past experience and growing up with negative labels.
Even simple subtle sounds can be a cause of distraction. The children find it very
difficult to filter and inhibit the incoming stimuli like light or sound from fans;
everything becomes a distraction. Research studies in the realm have conjectured
that rather than inattention the child pays attention to everything whether relevant or
not and this can be very disorienting for the child. The children have difficulty
integrating sensory input and this may contribute totheir physical sensitivities as
well. A simple pat on a shoulder by a friend or a teacher can be interpreted in a
negative connotation and may result in aggressive or violent behavior.
Oppositional defiant disorder is display of aggressive and hostile behavior towards
authority figures. Children with ADHD frequently argue with adults and often lose their
temper. The pattern of behavior is significantly more frequent and intense compared
to other children in the same age group.
The social immaturity in their responses and lack of emotional control has a strong
negative impact on the childrens academic performance. This leads to a low self
image and low peer acceptance. The confusion and frustration in different learning
situations often cause anxiety. Entering a new situation can be anxiety provoking as
they anticipate failure. The children are extremely vulnerable to frustration and
anxiety. The child in early school years must resolve the conflict between positive self
image and inferiority (Erikson). Repeated failures and frustrations often lead to a poor
self image. It is therefore very important that the interventions are introduced in early
years.

31

Depression is another major associated problem for ADHD children. There are intense
feelings of sorrow, frustration and low self esteem leading to anger. If the anger is
directed towards the self the child becomes depressed with a negative self image and
with no positive thoughts towards the future.
ROLE OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS
Studies have been of crucial significance in the domains of social-emotional
development. This aspect of development is the foundation for all other domains. An
emotionally supportive environment during early years is of utmost importance for the
child to develop love for learning which is important for school success. As young
children develop their early emotional experiences literally become embedded in the
architecture of their brain (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2004).

Key Social and emotional skills children need:

Confidence

Capacity to develop good relationships with peers and adults

Concentration and persistence on challenging tasks

Ability to effectively communicate emotions

Ability to listen to instructions and be attentive

Ability to solve social problems

It is important for the overall development of children that parents be present enough
to support them, and this support fosters confidence and growth in many areas.
Just being physically present is not enough. Parents that may be nearby but that are not
emotionally invested or responsive tend to raise children that are more distressed and less
engaged with their play or activities. A study investigating the connection between parents
investment and childrens competence suggests that the emotional involvement of parents
really does matter and affects the outcome of their childs emotional competence and
regulation (Volling, 458). Parents should keep this in mind when considering the quality
of the time they spend with their children, because if they do not invest enough of their
time and commitment into pouring emotionally into their child, the child will struggle to
learn how to regulate his emotions and interact with others appropriately. In studying the
outcomes of Ainsworths Strange Situation experiments, L. Alan Sroufe found that the
style of early attachment relationships predicts later emotional development of children.
Sroufe asserts that, Such variations [of relationship quality] are not reflections of
genetically based traits of the infant but of the history of interaction with the parent
(188). This suggests that attachment styles are not inborn but are driven by how parents
32

interact with their infant from births.


An important factor in the emotional development of children is how warm caregivers are,
and studies have been done to find the effects of depressed mothers on the emotional
development of children. Depressed mothers have maladaptive thoughts, attitudes, and
behaviors, and these, along with being in a similarly stressful environment as the mother,
put a child at risk of developing his own emotional problems (Sroufe 204). The fact that
depressed mothers are likely to be indifferent towards their children, put them in less
social situations, and generally provide less stimulation for their children, puts the
children at a disadvantage for achieving normal emotional development. A key aspect of
emotional development in children is learning how to regulate emotions. Children see how
their parents display emotions and interact with other people, and they imitate what they
see their parents do to regulate emotions (Sheffield Morris et. al). A childs temperament
also plays a role in their emotion regulation, guided by the parenting style they receive
(Belsky et al). For example, children more prone to negative emotions or episodes of anger
are deeply affected by hostile and neglectful parenting, often leading to even more
behavioral problems. Difficult temperaments can become a bidirectional problem that
evokes even more negative emotions from the parent if not monitored. Parents should be
aware that not only do their own emotions and parenting style affect the emotional
outcomes of their children, but if they are not aware of how their childrens tempers affect
them, they could fall into a spiral of ineffective and indifferent parenting which further
contributes to negative behaviors from the children. Furthermore, how parents address
the emotions of their children and respond to them affects how expressive the children feel
they can be. Reacting with criticism or dismissing the sadness or anger of a child
communicates that their emotions are not valid or appropriate, which can cause children
to be even more prone to those negative emotions and less able to cope with stress (Siegler
et. al). Instead, guiding childrens emotions and helping them find ways to express
themselves in a healthy manner helps them continue regulating their responses to
challenges and even aids their academic and social competence. This sort of emotion
coaching greatly helps in reducing future problem behavior in children.
In addition to being able to express their own emotions, it is important in social situations
for children to be able to identify and deal with the emotions of those around them.
Parents model for their children how to comfort someone who is crying or smile at
someone who is smiling, but other parental behaviors also influence how their children
learn to understand the emotions of others. It has been found that the interaction between
33

parents affects a childs emotional and social development, and marital conflict
contributes to problems in these developmental areas (Sheffield Morris et al.).
Safe, caring, participating and responsive homes support the development of a sociallyemotionally healthy child. Positive home environments lead to a happy child who is
independent and willing to take responsibilities and is a keen learner. It is deemed
important that the child develops a sense of trust and resolves the developmental conflicts
positively (Erik Erikson). This makes the child feel connected to and belonging to the
environment. Physical safety from verbal or physical threats/ teasing is of utmost
importance for the healthy development of the child. Emotional safety is the result of
internal sense of being safe which can be achieved if the child receives a warm and caring
parenting. Consistency in discipline and a predictable routine are of great significance in
making children emotionally mature and competent. Research has significantly shown
that children who feel connected and safe at home are better adjusted in school are less
likely to be absent from school for a longer duration. Less chances of such children be
involved in substance use, or initiate sexual activity at an early age and also report higher
level of emotional well-being (Resniek, et.al 1997 ; Eccles et.al 1997;Steinberg 1996).
Safe and responsive homes treat children with respect, provide a safe non threatening and
supportive space where the children can explore and practice their skills (Sapra ).
Positive relationships are the most crucial scaffolds for social and emotional competence.
Joshua Freedman in core competency skills focuses on the parents skills and emphasizes
on the ability to be a good listener. This skill she argues needs to be developed as it is of
utmost importance that the child feels he/she is being heard.
Author Maurice Elias ( ) in the book emotionally intelligent parenting focuses on
modeling behavior which parents seek. The self-esteem of the child needs to be nurtured.
A good sense of self leads to happier well adjusted children who perform better
academically and socially in school tasks. The children need to be given the responsibility
and freedom to make age appropriate choices. The parents need to encourage and
appreciate the childs efforts from an early age. Keeping in view that every child is unique
with different potentials the parents need to realize and appreciate the childs skills. The
skill or potential can be in the realm of academics, athletics, creative arts, or in
interpersonal relationships. The child needs to be honored and the skill needs to be
nurtured. The differences in abilities of children need to be respected. This enhances the
34

self worth of the child as this is one of the most crucial aspects for emotional well-being.

STORY TELLING TO ENHANCE SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE IN CHILDREN: AN


INDIAN PERSPECTIVE
. Any scientific enquiry needs to operationalize and define the key concepts. In the
paper I would like to use the term emotional well being from the perspective of
positive psychology as an individual childs ability to enjoy life, be happy and well
adjusted in different social settings. Emotional well being is not the absence of
emotions but the ability to understand the value of your emotion and use them to
move your life forward in positive direction. A well being is a state that describes the
happiness, confidence, contentment and ability of the child to use his/her potential in
a productive manner in academic as well as in interpersonal relations.
The ability to understand relationship and the skill is helpful in fulfilling the needs for
safety, love, and self- esteem This in turn helps an individual in achieving a happy
state of mind and satisfaction in relationships. In addition to reading, writing and
arithmetic the importance of handling relationships in a positive manner does have an
impact on the childs ability and plays a crucial role in any learning situation.
Emotions are known to alter thinking in many ways. The emotions belong to that
sphere of mental functioning which includes the

BACKGROUND
the empirical research on social and emotional well being in children has burgeoned in
recent years emphasizing on the need to identify certain crucial aspect in the childs
environment, interaction patterns with the care givers and other significant adults
with a view to focus on enhancing the childs abililities to recognize and manage their
emotions, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish positive goals, make
responsible decisions, and handle interpersonal situations effectively (Collaborative
for Academic, Social, and Emotional
Learning, 2003; Lemerise & Arsenio, 2000). The social and emotional aspects of the
35

childs personality seem to be an important determining factor with respect to


scholastic and academic performance. The Social Emotional learning (SEL) is fast
becoming an essential part of learning of education world where families, school and
communities work together to promote childs success in school and life and to
support the healthy development of all children It also enhances students
connection to school through caring, engaging classroom and school practices
(McNeeley, Nonnemaker, & Blum, 2002; Osterman, 2000). Learning social and
emotional skills is similar to learning other academic
skills in that the effect of initial learning is enhanced over
time to address the increasingly complex situations children face regarding
academics, social relationships, citizenship, and health. Therefore, skills must be
developed for
negotiating diverse contexts and handling challenges at each developmental level
(Weissberg & Greenberg, 1998).
This outcome is best accomplished through effective classroom instruction; student
engagement in positive activitiesn and out of the classroom; and broad student,
parent, and
community involvement in program planning, implementation, and evaluation
(Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2003; Henderson &
Mapp, 2002
;
Pittman, Irby, Tolman, Yohalem, & Ferber, 2001). Ideally,
planned, ongoing, systematic, and coordinated SEL instruction should begin in
preschool and continue through high school. The importance being assigned to this
aspect of childs personality trait ( I wish to address social emotional well being as an
important personality trait because once the child masters the various skills
enhancing the social emotional maturity these skills become an integral part of the
childs personality) in the western world is evident from the fact that there are a large
number of researches funded by many government organizations in order to promote
emotional well being and consequently better performance in different spheres by the
child. There is no dearth of workshops and training sessions for parents, teachers and
other child care professionals empowering them to be able to strengthen childrens
skills at managing interpersonal relationships, their emotions and stresses.

Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of


36

a mental disorder.[1][2] From perspectives of the discipline of positive


psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and
procure a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological
resilience Mental health is an expression of our emotions and signifies a successful
adaptation to a range of demands.
The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which the individual
realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and
fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community" It was previously stated that there was
no one "official" definition of mental health. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing
professional theories all affect how "mental health" is defined. There are different types of mental health
problems, some of which are common, such as depression and anxiety disorders, and some not so
common, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Most recently, the field of Global Mental Health has emerged, which has been defined as 'the area of study,
research and practice that places a priority on improving mental health and achieving equity in mental health
for all people worldwide'.

well being is a state that describes your happiness, confidence, and your good way of thinking. It
is a nice state where you are satisfied and happy. Stratton (
) in her work on pre-school
children has focused on the issue of emotional well being by stating that it is the ability to
strengthen young childrens capacity to manage their emotions and behavior and to make
meaningful friendships particularly if they are exposed to multiple life stresses, may serve an
important protective function for school success.The intellectual and physical development of a
child to a large extent depends a great deal on the genetic disposition. the psychological
dimension which controls and intensifies the childs development also needs to be considered.
However, emotional maturity comes with the correct psychological development which takes place
when the individual is given the right ambience to grow up in, especially in the initial stages of life
( Ram, U )
CONCEPT OF EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE

I prefer to use the term emotional competence instead of emotional literacy as I feel that the term
competence has a broader connotation. The term encompasses various facets of emotions and
the basic premise of the concept entails the ability to recognize, understand and appropriately
express and manage emotions. These skills are supposedly the basis for perceiving and
communicating emotions. First of all I would like to state a very important and critical observation:
most of us are brought up in a state of emotional ignorance or illiteracy. The child is expected to
show competent and professional behavior in day to day activities. This to a large extent tends to
ignore the feelings and emotions of others. In any competitive environment the child / adult is
expected to perform, win and excel. At no juncture the adult stops to think of the other person
37

who could not succeed and the child is not very often explained as to how the other child might
be feeling who could not be an achiever or a winner. Children are asked to be rational, logical and
precise in the cognitive and intellectual domains. Rarely are they encouraged to ponder on their
feelings and emotions and labeling the emotions is something which is thought to be of no
significance by most caregivers and significant adults in the childs social web. Questions like how
do you feel? Are you happy? Is not part of our vocabulary in every day interactions with the child.
How can the social and emotional domains be strengthened so that this significant aspect is
reinforced which will eventually have other positive benefits for the children. Any social emotional
learning program which aims to make children socially and emotionally mature needs to
understand and develop an awareness of individual childs needs, their family background and
identifying any problem that the child or the family might be undergoing. To strengthen resilience
and positive coping, skills like problem solving abilities, handling stressful situations, verbalizing
their feelings and managing interpersonal relations need to be worked on. In the face of
challenges and difficulties the child needs to be made aware that the negative reactions like
aggression, bitterness, disappointment can hamper further development and progress. Flexibility
in thoughts and actions is needed and an attitude makes appropriate environmental changes to
suit your needs. Psychological maturity is a blessing when the child learns to accept reality
without feeling the need to change it. A child who successfully deals with disappointments, failures,
ridicule, and hardships develops a greater maturity compared to others who are not exposed to
such negative situations.
An emotionally and socially competent child learns to recognize and express negative emotions
like aggression, guilt, fear, pain and hurt in an appropriate manner. The child is more likely to be
able to take the perspective of another and display empathy. In fact, empathy is one of the most
crucial attribute for social and emotional learning. In the interpersonal domain a socially and
emotionally healthy child is warm and has a friendly disposition. The interpersonal relationships
are positive as there are fewer fights with peers and verbal aggression is low. The learner displays
high levels of motivation, enthusiasm to learn and is more cooperative in the school setting.
These factors are positively related to school related tasks and academic achievement. Social
emotional learning impacts different spheres of childs life by enhancing the self esteem, inhibiting
aggressive behavior, and developing a disposition to learn leading to academic progression and a
positive mental health.
Daniel Goleman, the chief proponent of emotional intelligence has always maintained that
emotional skills and abilities matter more than the IQ. Understanding the concept of emotional
intelligence requires exploring the two component terms emotions and intelligence. The cognitive
spheres include functions like memory, reasoning, judgment, logic, abstract thinking and other
higher order thought processes. Emotions belong tothat sphere of mental functioning which relates
to our feelings, moods, and different emotional experiences. These affect related experiences are
of significance in our social interactions with others. The emotional experiences are vital as these
are the building blocks of a relationship.
An emotionally mature person as accepted by most of the psychologists accepts the psychological
reality without feeling the need to alter it. The person displays a responsible behavior in different
situations -, is capable of taking decisions and is self reliant. On the contrary an emotionally
38

immature person reacts to difficulties with bitterness, resentment or anger. There is a tendency in
such a person to feel victimized or disempowered (
). Such a person lacks resiliency
and takes longer to recover from the negative or the threatening situation. This results in loss of
precious time which could have otherwise been utilized in some other constructive activity

EMPATHY AND WELL BEING

. In psychological literature empathy research has witnessed an increased concern in the last two
or three decades as a consequence of Daniel Golemans focus on emotional intelligence and the
well being agenda. Other fields of studies like History, Philosophy, Evolutionary Biology, Cultural
studies, and neural science too have been associated with various facets of empathy. Empathy
has been studied as shared emotional response and perspective taking in the realm of
Psychology. Tees two aspects are the affective empathy and the cognitive empathy.
Since time immemorial Philosophers who have concerned themselves with values and moral
judgment have evinced empathy as an important constituent of these traits. In the eighteenth
century philosopher Adam Smith in his theory of Moral Sentiments highlighted perspective taking
as an area of major concern. In early nineteenth century martin Buber explored the idea that
humanity and moral action are interwined with the ability to understand the other persons view
point. Historian Theodore Zeldin has emphasized that the most important way of creating empathy
is through intimate conversation. He believed that conversation becomes an experience which
teaches us how to empathize and human bonds are created that will reduce social conflict and will
encourage mutual understanding, respect and cooperation. Study of primates ability at role taking
and understanding the emotional responses of others of their species has been studied by
evolutionary biologists.
Empathy is evident when the person is able to transcend egocentrism by imagining other
persons point of view frequently leads to modification in behavior, to pro-social activities and the
avoidance of aggression (Alfie Kohn )
Roman Krznaric in his article I am you are has focused on five major projects which are being
taken up in different countries to foster empathy education in children. The case studies of the
following five has programs has been done
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Roots of Empathy (ROE) program in Canada where the teacher is a baby


Primary years program of the international Baccalanreate
Through other Eyes: resources for teaching social studies in the US
Social emotional learning program (SEAL) for primary school children in the UK
Climate chaos a part of global citizenship curriculum

Empathy is one of the core skills which need to be nurtured in any social emotional learning
program. Any effort at SEL should focus on conversational empathy and experiential empathy.

39

Different terminologies like emotional intelligence. Emotional literacy, life skills and resiliency
which are used to describe social emotional competence do take empathy into consideration
and is one of the major constituents of such programs. These soft skills as used by Daniel
Goleman do influence our relationships and have hard consequences on all spheres of life.
Empathy training programs have shown that children who are exposed to such programs are
more mature in handling of different situations and display less aggressive behavior like
bullying and conflicts and are more pro-social in their interactions with their peers and exhibit
cooperation, sharing and caring behavior. Mary Gordans study of children exposed to ROE
program has conclusively shown that the children were more emotionally mature, displayed
pro-social behavior and had the ability to perceive the perspective of others and in fostering
relationships compared to children who were not exposed to such a training program.
Common human interconnectedness and empathy has revolutionalized societies and resulted
in historical transformations in the past. Role play and stories have been at the helm of
empathy fostering programs worldwide. The programs encourage perspective taking to
enhance this skill and create a bonding with the characters in the stories. This encourages an
understanding about the behavior and thought processes of the other person. An empathetic
understanding leads to less conflicts and better bonding resulting in better relationships, more
humanitarian approach to issues concerning those under unfortunate circumstances.

POSITIVE SELF ESTEEM AND WELL BEING

The traditional conception of mental health asserts that the well adjusted individual possesses a
view of the self that includes an awareness and acceptance of both positive and negative views of
the self. (Greenwold 1980)
Almost all studies and researches in the field of psychiatry and psychology have focused on the
aspect of contact with reality as one of the most crucial and relevant aspect of well being and
positive mental health. Along with this, the ability of individuals to be able to assess their abilities
and their shortcomings in an objective manner is supposedly the hallmark of an emotionally
mature and healthy individual. The ability to be happy or be relatively contended is the central
criterion of mental health and well being. In their article illusion and well being Taylor and Brown
(1988) have argued that people who judge themselves positively and display a tendency to
perceive and judge their achievements and positive traits in an exaggerated manner tend to
display illusory quality of self perception. Such individuals who display positive illusions about the
self, personal control and flattering self portrayal tend to be more motivated and persistent in their
efforts at tasks undertaken by them.
Evidence from various other research studies do indicate that positive illusion about the self may
be especially apparent and adaptive under circumstances of adversity that is those circumstances
40

that might be expected to produce depression or lack of motivation. Chief value of illusion is that it
creates self fulfilling prophecies a term used by Taylor and Brown which makes such individuals
try harder in situations with objectively poor probabilities of success. A higher self esteem enables
a person to evaluate his/her performance more positively as compared to those with low self
esteem.(Vasta and Brockner 1979). Research on motivation has repeatedly emphasized that
beliefs in personal efficacy are associated with higher motivation and more efforts to succeed.
In addition, positive illusions about the self make a person more cognizant of their strengths and
assets and are considerably less aware of their faults and weaknesses .Even when negative
aspects are acknowledged they tend to be dismissed as inconsequential . Perception of
improvement has been reported by subjects even though the performance remains unchanged.
(Conway and Ress 1984) in such individuals. Attributing positive impact of such illusions in
promoting the capacity for creative and productive work the authors have rested their arguments
that such positive ratings about the self contribute to enhanced motivation, persistence and
performance. Whether exaggerated beliefs in personal control affect intellectual functioning
directly is unknown. Positive perceptions about the self do result in positive moods, efficient and
rapid problem solving strategies) (Isen and Means1983. Though the studies on positive illusion
tend to have some inherent limitations .the most crucial question which the research has not been
able to answer conclusively is whether all positive illusions are adaptive and catalytic in enhancing
performance, social, skills and wellbeing.
In spite of certain inherent limitations in the studies of positive illusions, I strongly feel that certain
abilities like focusing on the achievements and enhancing the childs skills at sharing and reporting
their achievements with their peers and adults result in positive self esteem and feeling of self
efficacy among children. This does impact the child in a positive way by motivating him/her to
perform better, have more zeal and persistence. In the study on children 10-12 year olds( Sapra
2006) a story telling session was organized with the view to help children overcome their feelings
of inadequacy with regards to school learning. The group consisted of children who were
disruptive in the class rooms and were reluctant to participate in activities pertaining to reading
and writing. During the interactive sessions the children were encouraged to share their positive
qualities and skills in different activities in the playground or at home. The activities which the
children narrated were abilities pertaining to those activities which were not linked directly to the
tasks associated with school learning. These were the activities where the children were not
required to perform in a typical learning situation like drawing, sharing things with friends, activities
concerning various games, reading stories. Later the researcher motivated the participating
children to discuss school related achievements as well. After a little coaxing the children related
those tasks which according to them they were good at. The participant children described
themselves as bright ,able to learn quickly, good at reading, good memory etc. These
discussions had a positive impact on the childs school performance and in the improvement of
behavior in the classroom. The children strived to do better in their subject activities as well. This
probably was the result of the positive traits which they had attributed to themselves at the time of
discussions. Though, the teachers ratings did not agree with the descriptions but the children
worked hard to achieve the traits described by them during a later stage. The study was very
encouraging as it focused on the positive results which were achieved after the participants

41

described some of their positive attributes and later worked to realize them.

In his work on social intelligence Daniel Goleman discusses the hard consequences of the soft
skills on the work environment. The social and emotional abilities are catalytic to whatever other
abilities or potentials one possesses in the cognitive domain. The brain can be described as an
elegant machine for survival and during the course of evolution the brain has the ability to register
emotions. As survival is the constant question in evolution, the brain constantly scans the
incoming information for any threat. Amygdala in the brain is the hairtrigger and releases stress
harmones the moment it perceives a threat. Hypothelamic pitutiory adrenal axis is activated. In
the present day scenario actual physical threats which spark the fight or flight response are
almost non existent. Dr. Goleman argues that in todays world reaction of the team mates or their
success are perceived as threats by the human brain. These perceptions trigger the Amygdala
where the HPA axis changes and prioritizes the incoming information and also preoccupies the
attention. The complex symbolic threat is perceived as distressing emotion and the attention
narrows down and there is a strong urge to do something or say something. Amygdala hijacks the
negative feelings and scans all other incoming information in the light of those negative thoughts
and feelings. There is a strong urge to do something or do something. These reaction patterns are
unconsciously learned during early childhood.

ROLE OF SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING FOR CHILDREN WITH BEHAVIOR AND


ADJUSTMENT PROBLEM

Children with ADHD often have more social and emotional problems than other children. This is true for all subtypes of
ADHD and for both boys and girls. Children with ADHD often have trouble making and keeping friends, for a variety of
reasons:
They may have dificulty reading social cues; for example, they may interrupt or have trouble taking turns.
They may have problems learning social skills, such as conversation skills and problem-solving.
They may have trouble controlling their behaviour and emotions. Other children may find their hyperactive or
impulsive behaviour irritating.
They may be very physical or aggressive.
They may react angrily or inappropriately when they are upset.
They may have trouble cooperating with friends.

Signs of social problems


Children with ADHD may:
behave aggressively
be rejected by peers
have poor conversational skills
have trouble using conversational skills in social situations
become frustrated or angry more easily than other children
be anxious or depressed
seem quiet and withdrawn
be shunned or bullied by peers
These "problem" behaviours are not intentional; they are part and parcel of the disorder. Children with ADHD often have
trouble regulating their emotions, or controlling emotional reactions. Many children with ADHD also have a psychiatric
disorder such as anxiety disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or conduct disorder. These too can affect children's social and
emotional skills.

Helping children with ADHD and social and emotional problems

42

There are many programs available to help children develop social skills. Research shows that the most effective programs
take place in the environment where the child is having trouble.
It is important for parents and teachers to:
Teach, model, and support appropriate behaviour.
Provide lots of positive feedback to reinforce appropriate behaviour.
Teachers can make a difference in the classroom:
Children who feel connected to their school and classroom are more likely to engage in pro-social behaviour. They
are also more likely to achieve academically. Teachers can make children feel connected by creating a positive learning
environment.
Teachers need to become aware of which students are at risk, and then recognize and support their skills.
Parents can help their children with ADHD by:
Playing games with them that require following rules, concentration, and cooperation.
Talking about difficult situations your child encounters with other children. Encouraging him or her to be empathetic
by thinking how the other person might have felt.
Noticing when they handle a situation successfully and pointing out what they did and why it worked.
Talking about and imagining the consequences of actions or behaviour, such as What do you think might happen if
you did that? or What might the other person feel like if you said that?
Helping them to understand the importance of personal space and boundaries. For example, not interrupting when
someone else is talking and not speaking too loudly.
Social skills training is usually provided by a trained counsellor. It can help children with:
communication
anger management
problem-solving and conflict resolution
improving interpersonal skills
making and keeping friends

Tara McAuley, PhD, CPsych


Peter Chaban, MA, MEd
Rosemary Tannock, PhD
10/14/2009

43

ABILITY
TO
EMPATHISE
MORAL
AND
SOCIAL
VALUES

PROJECTS

STORY

FEELINGS

TELLING
EMOTIONA
L
ASPECTS
OF THE
STORY

44

REFLECTS
ON
DECISIONS

ABILITY TO
EMPATHISE WITH
CHARACTERS IN THE
STORY

PRO-SOCIAL
BEHAVIOR

45

BETTER SOCIAL
RELATIONSHIPS WITH
PEERS

REDUCTION IN ANTI
SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
AND
PROBLEM BEHAVIOR

PROJECTS
FEELINGS IN A
SECURE
ENVIRONMENT

BETTER
MENTAL HEALTH

BETTER
ADJUSTMENT

FEELING OF
BEING
HAPPY

REFLECTS ON
DECISIONS AND
EMOTIONAL
RESPONSES OF
CHARACTERS
CRITICAL THINKING
AND
REASONING
ABILITIES
46

CAN TRANSFER
BEHAVIOR IN REAL
LIFE SITUATIONS

ABILITIES IN
COGNITIVE DOMAIN
LIKE LINGUISTIC,
COMPREHENSION

MORAL AND
SOCIAL
VALUES

UNDERSTANDS
IMPORTANCE OF
FRIENDS

47

SHARING AND
COOPERATION
CARING

Outcomes Associated with the Five Competencies


The short-term goals of SEL programs are to: one, promote students self-awareness, self- management, socialawareness, relationship, and responsible decision-making skills; and two, improve student attitudes and beliefs
about self, others, and school.

These, in turn, provide a foundation for better adjustment and academic performance as reflected in more positive
social behaviors and peer relationships, fewer conduct problems, less emotional distress, and improved grades and
test scores.

48

There is a growing awareness in the U.S. among educators and policymakers about the importance of social and
emotional development for successful student performance in preschool and elementary school. The five sets of SEL
competencies are important from very early in life but are especially relevant as children begin to spend time with
adults outside the home and to socialize with peers.

Social and emotional skills play a role in determining how well-equipped children will be to meet the demands of the
classroom. They also help determine whether students are able to engage fully in learning and benefit from
instruction.

Powerful Evidence Supporting the Impact of Enhancing Students' SEL

Research shows that SEL can have a positive impact on school climate and promote a host of academic, social, and
emotional benefits for students. Durlak, Weissberg et al.'s recent meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in
schools indicates that students receiving quality SEL instruction demonstrated:

better academic performance: achievement scores an average of 11 percentile points higher than
students who did not receive SEL instruction;

improved attitudes and behaviors: greater motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, increased
time devoted to schoolwork, and better classroom behavior;

fewer negative behaviors: decreased disruptive class behavior, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent
acts, and disciplinary referrals; and

reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, and other behavior problems.

The study of pre-school class room behavioral adjustment problems and social-emotional
school readiness competencies were investigated by Fantuzzo et al(2005). The research has
important implications for the present study and is being reported in Toto.

The study examined the unique relationship between multiple dimensions of classroom
behavioral adjustment
emotion regulation, peer play in the home and neighborhood context,

49

and approaches to learning. Socially negative behavior in the classroom predicted emotional
lability, maladaptive
learning behaviors, and disruptive social play in the home at the end of the year. Withdrawn
behavior problems and salient socialemotional competencies for urban Head Start children.
These relationships were investigated
using a hierarchical model that controlled for the variance in socialemotional outcomes
attributed to age,
gender, and verbal ability. Classroom behavioral adjustment problems were assessed early in the
year by the Adjustment
Scales for Preschool Intervention (ASPI) across multiple, routine preschool classroom situations.
Outcomes
assessed at the end of uniquely
predicted lower affective engagement in the classroom and disconnection from peers in the home
context.
Recently, much national attention has been paid to the contribution of social and emotional readiness
to childrens school success (National Education Goals Panel, 1997; U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (USDHHS), 2001). Research documents the negative influence of social, regulatory,
and emotional problems on childrens early school experiences (Knitzer, 2003; Raver, 2002; Shonkoff &
Phillips, 2000). Preschool children who exhibit challenges in these areas are more likely to experience
difficulties within the classroom that affect their ability to develop normal peer relationships and to behav
in ways conducive to learning (Vaughn et al., 1992). As a consequence, these children are less likely to
be socially and academically prepared for school (Huffman, Mehlinger, & Kerivan, 2000).
Unfortunately, epidemiological studies indicate that as many as 1015% of preschool children exhibit
moderate to clinically significant emotional and behavioral difficulties (Lavigne et al., 1996; Qi & Kaiser,
2003). At highest risk for these problems, are low-income children who are disproportionately exposed to
risks to their health and well being (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; McLoyd, 1998). For these children,
the prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems is even higher (Lavigne et al., 1996; Sinclair,
DelHomme, & Gonzalez, 1993). Further, children living in disadvantaged urban areas are at heightened
risk for school adjustment difficulties. They are less likely to enter school systems with adequate
resources to meet their educational-emotional needs (U.S. Department of Education, 1996).
The occurrence of classroom behavioral adjustment problems in low-income, preschool children is
best understood from a developmental psychopathology perspective (Cicchetti & Sroufe, 2000). Two
principles exemplify this model: (a) the importance of understanding the influence of early patterns of
adaptation on later development and (b) the recognition that child functioning is influenced by important
proximal contexts such as school and home (Cicchetti & Sroufe, 2000). According to a developmental
psychopathology perspective, childrens developmental trajectories are influenced by early patterns of
adjustment. All children have the potential to set out on a positive developmental course; however,
early difficulties place children at risk for future problems. In addition, classroom behavioral adjustment
problems are viewed as arising in dynamic transaction between children and the demands of primary
contexts (Cicchetti&Sroufe, 2000). Therefore, it is critically important to study young childrens behavior
problems within proximal contexts, such as the preschool classroom and home.
In line with this developmental perspective, a growing body of research documents the negative influence
of early behavior problems on childrens academic and social outcomes. A review of the literature
provides evidence from a number of longitudinal studies that behavior problems identified in the
preschool
years are often stable and lead to additional problems within the school classroom (Qi & Kaiser, 2003).
Other research indicates that children with early behavioral problems experience difficulties interacting
with teachers, parents and peers, and engaging in classroom learning activities (Harden et al., 2000; Olson
& Hoza, 1993).
50

While current studies highlight the negative influence of preschool emotional and behavioral problems,
these study findings are limited for low-income preschool children. First, behavior problems are
frequently
not studied or assessed within naturalistic settings such as the preschool classroom. Second, available
tools used to assess classroom behavioral adjustment problems often lack reliability or validity for low
income
preschool populations (Lopez, Tarullo, Forness, & Boyce, 2000). Commonly used methods, such
as psychiatric checklists of mental disorders, have come under criticism for use with diverse, low-income
populations because of their illness orientation and lack of contextual sensitivity (Drotar, Stein, & Perrin,
1995; Fantuzzo & Mohr, 2000; Sherrod, 1999). Empirical studies indicate that early childhood educators,
particularly those serving low-income children, underreport classroom behavioral adjustment problems
when using these types of measures to avoid stigmatizing children with labels that are not associated with
needed classroom-based services (Mallory & Kearns, 1998).
In response to the need for reliable and valid assessment of problems within the classroom, McDermott
(1993) developed an alternative approach to assessing childrens classroom behavioral adjustment
problems.
Recently, this method was used to develop the Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention (ASPI)
a measure to assess low-income children being served in early childhood programs (Lutz, Fantuzzo, &
J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275 261

McDermott, 2002). The ASPI was created in partnership with early childhood professionals, including
teachers and disability coordinators. These professionals selected both routine classroom situations and
adaptive and maladaptive behaviors associated with these situations. The scale describes behavior that is
readily observable over a 1- or 2-month period within routine classroom situations, thus reducing the need
for teachers to make inferences regarding childrens internal mediating psychological processes (such
as thoughts or feelings, e.g., child seems sad). Studies with urban, low-income preschool children
have established the ASPI as a valid and reliable, multidimensional measure of classroom behavioral
adjustment adjustment (Bulotsky-Shearer & Fantuzzo, 2004; Lutz et al., 2002). The five dimensions
of preschool adjustment include: Aggressive, Oppositional, Inattentive/Hyperactive, Withdrawn/Low
Energy and Socially Reticent problems (Lutz et al., 2002).
To date, there has been only one study that has examined the predictive relationship between ASPI
dimensions identified early in childrens Head Start experience and selected social competency outcomes
(Fantuzzo, Bulotsky, McDermott, Mosca, & Lutz, 2003). This study used teacher reports of childrens
peer play to measure childrens end-of-the-year outcomes. Findings indicated that early socially
disruptive
classroom behavior problems (e.g., aggressive and oppositional problems) were associated with socially
disruptive classroom peer play at the end of the year. Aggressive problem behaviors were the strongest
predictor of disruptive peer play outcomes. Additionally, early socially disconnected and withdrawn
behavior problems within the classroom context predicted disengagement in play. Both socially reticent
and withdrawn/lowenergy problem behaviors were associated with disconnected peer play and negatively
related to prosocial, interactive peer play outcomes (Fantuzzo & Bulotsky, 2003).
The present study was designed to extend this initial ASPI research in two important ways. First,
given the recent attention to the critical role of emotional regulation in classroom behavioral adjustment
(Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000), we sought to take a closer look at the relationship between behavioral
problems
and a multidimensional measure of emotional regulation. Research suggests that internal regulatory
skills such as awareness and recognition of ones own emotions and effective regulation of emotional
expression within social interactions are critical for positive peer interactions and successful engagement
within the classroom learning environment (Denham, 1998; Denham, Salisch, Olthof, Kochanoff,
& Caverly, 2002; Denham et al., 2003; Eisenberg et al., 2001; Shields et al., 2001).
Second, we wanted to examine the relationship between classroom behavioral adjustment and additional
peer and classroom social outcomes. Studies suggest that the ability to interact effectively with
51

peers is a key social competency for preschool children (Coolahan, Fantuzzo, Mendez, & McDermott,
2000; Fantuzzo & Hampton, 2000; Rubin & Coplan, 1998). The research suggests that children exhibiting
classroom behavioral problems are likely to experience peer difficulties as well (Eisenberg & Fabes,
1992; Fantuzzo & McWayne, 2002). For the present study, we sought to extend investigation of peer
play interaction into the home and neighborhood context. In addition, it was important to examine a
second competency, foundational approaches to learning. This is defined as childrens ability to engage
in learning activities with others in the classroom, including flexibility, reflectivity, strategic
problemsolving,
vigilance, persistence, response to novelty, and error, as well as manifestations of effectiveness
motivation and attitudes towards learning (NEGP, 1997). Research conducted in Head Start suggests
that approaches to learning are critical skills for preschool readiness (Coolahan et al., 2000; Fantuzzo,
Perry, & McDermott, 2004; McDermott, Leigh, & Perry, 2002).
The primary goal of the present study was to investigate the unique contribution of early emotional
and behavioral problems to this set of social competencies: (a) emotional regulation, (b) peer play in
the home context, and (c) foundational approaches to learning in the school context. To examine unique
262 J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275

relationships, this study used a complex hierarchical model to take into account age, gender, and verbal
ability since studies have revealed a relationship between early classroom behavioral problems and
these variables (Coolahan et al., 2000; Fantuzzo et al., 2001; Harden et al., 2000; Kaiser, Cai, Hancock,
& Foster, 2002; Qi & Kaiser, 2003). We hypothesized that early socially negative behavior problems
would predict greater emotional lability, maladaptive learning behaviors, and disruptive social play in the
home environment, controlling for the influence of childrens age, gender, and verbal ability. In addition,
withdrawn behavior problems would be uniquely associated with lower affective engagement (emotional
regulation) in the classroom and disconnection from play with peers in the home context.
The participants in this study were a representative sample drawn from a large, urban Head Start
program in the Northeast. Children were recruited from 12 classrooms representing the programs six
geographical clusters. The 210 children ranged in age from 42 to 76 months (M= 58, S.D. = 7.3). Gender
was evenly distributed: 52% were male and 48% were female. The majority of the children were AfricanAmerican (92%), with the remaining 2% Caucasian, 2% Asian, 1% Hispanic, and 3% other. Family
income in the program matched national proportions for urban Head Start programs, with annual income
for 94% of the families below US$ 12,000.
Preschool classroom behavioral adjustment was measured by the Adjustment Scales for Preschool
Intervention (ASPI; Lutz et al., 2002), a multidimensional instrument based on teacher observations of
adaptive and maladaptive behavior in the preschool classroom.
Construct validity studies of the ASPI with urban, low-income preschool populations have revealed
five robust and reliable phenotypic dimensions: Aggressive, Oppositional,
Inattentive/Hyperactive,Withdrawn
The Preschool Learning Behaviors Scale (PLBS; (McDermott, Green, Francis, & Stott, 1996;
McDermott et al., 2002) was used to assess childrens approaches to learning. The PLBS contains
29 items reflecting child behavior that teachers rate on a three-point scale (most often applies,
sometimes applies, and does not apply). Construct validity studies yielded three reliable learning
behavior dimensions: Competence Motivation, Attention Persistence, and Attitude Toward Learning
(r = .85, .83, and .75, respectively) (McDermott et al., 1996; McDermott et al., 2002). The Attention
Persistence dimension contains
items assessing the degree to which children pay attention and are able to follow tasks through
to completion. Items on the Attitude Toward Learning scale focus on concepts such as childrens
willingness to be helped, desire to please the teacher, and propensity to express hostility when
frustrated. The PLBS has been validated for use with a Head Start population (Fantuzzo et al.,
2004).
The Verbal Ability Cluster score from the Differential Abilities Scale (DAS; Elliot, 1990) was used
52

to measure verbal ability. The DAS is an individually administered test of general intellectual ability
that provides one overall general intelligence quotient as well as three indexes of differentiated ability
(Verbal, Nonverbal Reasoning, and Spatial). For preschool-aged children, the Verbal Ability Cluster
is generated by administration of two subscales: Verbal Comprehension and Naming Vocabulary. This
cluster score reflects childrens knowledge of verbal concepts, language comprehension and expression,
level of vocabulary development, and general knowledge. Substantial evidence for construct validity,
concurrent and criterion-related reliability for this cluster score exists (Elliot, 1990).
Approval for the research activities was obtained from the Universitys Internal Review Board, the
Director of the Head Start Program, and the Head Start Policy Council. Twelve classrooms were selected
for participation, representing the programs six geographic clusters.
There were three types of data collection activities conducted early in the fall and late in the spring of the
academic year (7 month interval). Data collection consisted of the ASPI completed by teachers as
part of a program-wide assessment initiative to meet the federal Head Start Performance Standards. (a)
data from childrens primary caregivers,
(b) data from participating childrens teachers, and (c) individual direct assessments of children. Prior to
data collection, research team members met with parents (or primary caregiver) and teachers individually
to explain the purpose of the study and to clarify issues of confidentiality, informed consent and data
collection procedures. Ninety-five percent of the caregivers gave consent for their child to participate.
This high rate of participation ensured that the study samplewas representative of the Head Start program.
After obtaining parental consent for participation, research team members distributed questionnaire
packets to parents that included a consent form and the PIPPS-P. All the teachers were asked to complete
the ERC and a random subset were asked to complete the PLBS to reduce the workload. Teacher
participation
was 100%. A team of graduate students with training in child development conducted individual
direct assessments. The graduate students received extensive training in the DAS prior to its
administration.
Children were assessed individually outside of the Head Start classroom in a quiet place following
a brief warm-up period. During the 1520 min testing session, the two verbal subscales of the DAS
were administered.
The first set of analyses was conducted to determine the relationship between the five dimensions of
the ASPI assessed at the beginning of the year and the three socialemotional outcomes. First, bivariate
correlations were attained between the fall ASPI dimensions and the ERC, PIPPS-P, and the PLBS. Then,
hierarchical setwise multiple regression was used to examine the unique contribution of the ASPI to these
outcomes, controlling for the influence of child demographic variables and verbal ability. Multivariate
models were constructed for each set of socialemotional outcomes (i.e. dimensions of the ERC, PIPPS-P,
and PLBS). Child demographic variables (age, gender) and the DAS Verbal Cluster Score were applied as
J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275 265

control variables to account for variation in the criterion dimension by entering them first as two separate
sets. The ASPI dimensions were entered as a final independent set to assess their unique contribution
to the socio-emotional outcomes. The multivariate statistic, Wilks Lambda () was examined before
inspecting the significance of the model for each dependent variable, and the incremental value of each
set
entered. The best model was evaluated in terms of: (a) the overall R2 statistic, the proportion of variance
in
the criterion variable, explained by the best linear combination of the independent sets and (b) the partial
r2 statistic, which is the amount of variance uniquely associated with the last set entered, in this case, the
set of ASPI dimensions. The sample size of 210 children provided adequate statistical power for these
analyses, since a minimal sample of 107 is required to detect a medium effect with eight explanatory
variables (with power set at .80 and alpha set at a .05 significance level) (Cohen, 1992).
2. Results
53

2.1. Bivariate relationship between fall ASPI and spring outcomes


The bivariate correlations between ASPI dimensions assessed in the fall and measures of emotion
regulation,
interactive peer play, and learning behaviors assessed in the spring are displayed in Table 1.
Table 1
Bivariate correlations of the fall ASPI with spring outcomes
Spring dimensions Fall ASPI
Aggressive Inattentive/
Hyperactive
Oppositional Withdrawn/
Low Energy
Socially
Reticent
Classroom emotion regulationa
Lability/Negativity .38**** .52**** .37**** .07 .11
Emotion Regulation .10 .11 .17* .35**** .29****
Interactive peer playb
Play Interaction .00 .10 .11 .25*** .20**
Play Disruption .06 .23** .19* .01 .11
Play Disconnection .12 .13 .19* .08 .04
Classroom learning behaviorsc
Competence Motivation .37**** .43**** .16 .23** .03
Attention Persistence .23** .39**** .13 .22* .04
Attitude Toward Learning .31*** .31*** .12 .01 .14
Verbal abilityd
DAS Verbal Cluster Score .05 .12 .02 .20** .05
a N= 200.
b N= 170.
c N= 126.
d N= 210.
* p < .05.
** p < .01.
*** p < .001.
****p < .0001.
266 J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275

A number of significant bivariate relationships emerged that provided additional convergent and
divergent validity for the ASPI dimensions. ASPI underactive behavior problems (Withdrawn/Low
Energy and Socially Reticent) were negatively associated with emotional competencies such as
adaptive emotion regulation, interactive peer play in the home context, and motivated and attentive/
persistent learning behaviors in the spring. ASPI overactive behavior problems (Aggressive, Inattentive/
Hyperactive, and Oppositional) were positively correlated with labile emotion regulation and
disruptive peer play in the spring. ASPI overactive problems were also negatively associated with
learning
behaviors.
2.2. Relationship between the ASPI and emotion regulation
Table 2 displays the results from the multivariate hierarchical setwise regression models indicating the
amount of variation in classroom emotion regulation (ERC) explained by the set of ASPI dimensions
[after
accounting for variance associated with the covariates (child age, gender and verbal ability)]. The overall
multivariate statistic, Wilks Lambda was significant (Wilks = .49, F [16,342] = .32, p < .0001),
permitting further inspection of the significance of each of the two dependent variable models (the
ERC dimensions, Lability/Negativity, and Emotion Regulation). Both of the dimension models were
Table 2
Prediction of end-of-the-year emotion regulation by fall ASPI dimensions
Emotion regulation (ER-checklist) a
Lability/Negativity Emotion Regulation
Child demographic variables

54

Age .12 .09


Gender .08 .15*
Verbal ability (DAS) .04 .12
ASPI dimensions
Aggressive .07 .13
Inattentive/Hyperactive .36**** .07
Oppositional .29**** .08
Withdrawn/Low Energy .04 .22**
Socially Reticent .18** .20*
Variance explained by ASPIb (%) 28.6**** 13.5****
Variance explained by modelc (%) 39.6**** 19.0****
N= 181.
a Entries are standardized parameter estimates () derived in hierarchical multiple regression of the ERC dimensions on the
ASPI dimensions. Values reflect the relative contribution of each dimension as covaried by child age, gender, and verbal ability.
Tests assess the deviation of each parameter estimate from zero.
b Values equal the partial r2 (100) for prediction of ERC dimensions by all ASPI dimensions. All values are covaried for child
age, gender, and verbal ability.
c Values equal the multiple R2 (100) for prediction of ERC dimensions for the entire model.
* p < .05.
** p <. 01.
****p <. 0001.
J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275 267

significant, F [8,172] = 14.09, p < .0001 for Lability/Negativity, and F [8,172] = 14.09, p < .0001 for
Emotion
Regulation. The ASPI dimensions as a set accounted for a substantial amount of variance in the
Lability/Negativity dimension (28.6%) as indicated by the partial r2 (F = .30, p < .0001) and in Emotion
Regulation (13.5%) as indicated by the partial r2 (F = .73, p < .0001). Beta coefficients for each of the
ASPI dimensions illustrate differential prediction patterns. ASPI inattentive/hyperactive and oppositional
behaviors assessed at the beginning of the year were associated with higher lability/negativity at the end
of the year ( = 36, p < .0001 and = .29, p < .0001), and ASPI socially reticent behavior was
associated
with lower lability/negativity ( =.18, p < .01). The two underactive ASPI behavior problems assessed
at the beginning of the year were associated with lower emotion regulation outcomes ( =.22, p < .01
for Withdrawn/Low Energy and =.20, p < .05, for Socially Reticent dimensions).
2.3. Relationship between the ASPI and interactive peer play
Table 3 shows the amount of variation in interactive peer play (PIPPS-P) uniquely explained by the
set of ASPI dimensions after applying covariates. The overall multivariate statistic, Wilks Lambda
was significant (Wilks = .71, F [24,428.44] = 2.29, p < .001). Models for Play Disruption and Play
Interaction were significant (F [8,153] = 2.32, p < .05 and F [8,153] = 3.34, p < .01, respectively). ASPI
dimensions as a set contributed a significant amount of variance to disruptive peer play behavior
Table 3
Prediction of end-of-the-year interactive peer play by fall ASPI dimensions
Interactive peer play (PIPPS-P)a
Play Disconnection Play Disruption Play Interaction
Child demographic variables
Age .10 .01 .22**
Gender .01 .03 .21*
Verbal ability (DAS) .06 .04 .15
ASPI dimensions
Aggressive .03 .15 .02
Inattentive/Hyperactive .08 .25* .11
Oppositional .16 .20* .08
Withdrawn/Low Energy .09 .03 .13
Socially Reticent .01 .19* .13
Variance explained by ASPIb (%) 5.2 10.1** 6.2
Variance explained by modelc (%) 5.8 10.8* 14.9**
N= 162.

55

a Entries

are standardized parameter estimates () derived in hierarchical multiple regression of the PIPP-P dimensions on the
ASPI dimensions. Values reflect the relative contribution of each dimension as covaried by child age, gender, and verbal ability.
Tests assess the deviation of each parameter estimate from zero.
b Values equal the partial r2 (100) for prediction of PIPPS-P dimensions by all ASPI dimensions. All values are covaried for
child age, gender, and verbal ability.
c Values equal the multiple R2 (100) for prediction of PIPPS-P dimensions for the entire model.
* p < .05.
** p < .01.
268 J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275

(10.1%), partial r2 = .10, p < .01. Beta coefficients illustrate the following predictive patterns: inattentive/
hyperactive and oppositional behaviors predicted higher disruptive peer play and withdrawn/low
energy behaviors predicted lower disruptive play at the end of the year. In the prediction of interactive
peer play behavior, the covariates, child age and gender, were the only significant contributors
(partial r2 = .059, F = 5.23, p < .01). (Older children and girls demonstrated higher interactive peer play
outcomes.)
2.4. Relationship between the ASPI and learning behaviors
Table 4 displays the amount of variation in learning behaviors (PLBS) uniquely explained by the
set of ASPI dimensions after applying covariates. The overall multivariate statistic, Wilks Lambda
was significant (Wilks = .59, F [24,299.33] = 2.50, p < .001). Models for all criterion dimensions
were significant, with F [8,105] = 3.92, p < .001 for Competence Motivation, F [8,105] = 3.29, p < .01
for Attention/Persistence, and F [8,105] = 3.09, p < .01 for Attitude Toward Learning. ASPI dimensions
contributed a significant amount of variance to Competence/Motivation (18.4%) and Attitude Toward
Learning (11.5%) dimensions at the end of the year. The specific pattern of beta weights indicates that
Table 4
Prediction of end-of-the-year approaches learning behaviors by fall ASPI dimensions
Learning behaviors (PLBS)a
Competence Motivation Attention/Persistence Attitude Toward Learning
Child demographic variables
Age .02 .13 .05
Gender .08 .11 .17
Verbal ability (DAS) .06 .17 .10
ASPI dimensions
Aggressive .25* .01 .25*
Inattentive/Hyperactive .23* .27* 15
Oppositional .01 .06 .01
Withdrawn/Low Energy .16 .11 .03
Socially Reticent .01 .01 .06
Variance explained by ASPIb (%) 18.4*** 8.6 11.5*
Variance explained by modelc (%) 23.0*** 20.1** 19.1**
N= 114.
a Entries are standardized parameter estimates () derived in hierarchical multiple regression of the PLBS dimensions on the
ASPI dimensions. Values reflect the relative contribution of each dimension as covaried by child age, gender, and verbal ability.
Tests assess the deviation of each parameter estimate from zero.
b Values equal the partial r2 (100) for prediction of PLBS dimensions by all ASPI dimensions. All values are covaried for child
age, gender, and verbal ability.
c Values equal the multiple R2 (100) for prediction of PLBS dimensions for the entire model.
* p < .05.
** p < .01.
*** p < .001.
J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275 269

aggressive and inattentive behavior was associated with lower competence motivation and aggressive
behavior was associated with lower attitude toward learning at the end of the year.
3. Discussion
The present study examined the unique relationship between multiple dimensions of classroom behavioral
adjustment problems and salient socialemotional competencies for urban Head Start children. In
accord with a developmental psychopathology model, maladaptation was conceptualized as persistent
56

behavioral problems across diverse, routine classroom situations. It was hypothesize that socially
negative,
behavior problems and withdrawn classroom behavior, assessed early in the Head Start year, would
be associated with later disruptions in childrens ability to engage in positive peer play and instructional
activities. These relationships are considered below for each distinct set of competencies investigated.
3.1. Emotion regulation
Socially negative behavior early in the school year, accounted for a significant amount of variance
in emotion dysregulation at the end of the year. Children exhibiting early inattentive and oppositional
behavior manifested greater levels of unpredictable and negative emotion in the classroom. Conversely,
children demonstrating socially reticent behaviors displayed lower levels of this labile or negative
emotionality.
These findings are supported by literature suggesting an association between early externalizing
problem behaviors and poor frustration tolerance, angry reactivity, affective intensity, and situationally
inappropriate displays of negative emotions (Eisenberg, Fabes, Nyman, Bernzweig, & Pinuelas, 1994;
Shields & Cicchetti, 1997). Further, research indicates that early inattentive or oppositional problems
are directly related to emotional lability and difficulties with self-control (Bulotsky-Shearer & Fantuzzo,
2004; Shields et al., 2001).
In addition, socially disconnected behavior in the classroomwas associated with lower levels of adaptive
emotional interactions and awareness of self and others. Children, who exhibited early withdrawn and
socially reticent behavior, demonstrated less adaptive emotional regulation and affective engagement in
the classroom at the end of the year. This replicates findings from previous research indicating that
socially
inhibited behavior problems are inversely related to adaptive self-regulation skills and engagement with
peers (Bulotsky-Shearer&Fantuzzo, 2004; Eisenberg, Shepard, Fabes, Murphy,&Guthrie, 1998; Rubin,
Cheah, & Fox, 2001; Spinrad et al., 2004). Shields and Cicchetti (1997) suggest that withdrawn children
may lack foundational skills such as flexibility, emotional understanding, and communication skills that
underlie regulatory difficulties.
While the ASPI distinguishes between two types of underactive behavior, withdrawn/low energy and
socially reticent behavior, in this study both types were related comparably to emotional regulation
and interactive peer play outcomes. While very few studies make the distinction between two different
underactive behaviors for preschool children, one recent study by Coplan, Prakash, ONeil, and Arner
(2004) identified two similar types of social withdrawal for preschool children using a parent-report
measure. This research identified (a) conflicted shyness, defined by social fear and anxiety despite a
desire to interact socially and reflected in reticent behavior and (b) social disinterest, defined by lack
of a
strong motivation to engage in social interaction. Indeed, this and other research suggests that both types
are associated with difficulties in emotion regulation, interactive peer play and peer acceptance (Coplan
et al., 2004; Hart et al., 2000).
270 J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275

3.2. Interactive peer play


Preschool classroom behavioral adjustment problems uniquely contributed to childrens interactive
peer play competencies observed in the home and neighborhood context. Specifically, socially disruptive
behavior (ASPI inattentive/hyperactive and oppositional behavior problems) predicted disruptive play
outcomes in the home, while socially reticent behavior was inversely related to disruptive play. This
finding is consistent with literature that links these classroom behavior problems to difficulties engaging
in effective play with peers in both the school and home contexts. Studies with preschool children
have demonstrated that conduct problems, aggressive and oppositional behavior, and hyperactivity in the
classroom are associated with higher levels of disruptive play (Coolahan et al., 2000; Fantuzzo&Bulotsky,
2003; Lutz et al., 2002). In a study of preschool classroom behavior and childrens peer play in the home
context, Fantuzzo and McWayne (2002) provide further evidence that conduct problems, hyperactivity,
57

and inattentionpassivity within the classroom are directly related to disruptive play in the home.
Findings
from the present study in concert with previous research, underscore that children exhibiting behavioral
problems within the preschool classroom demonstrate greater difficulties interacting with peers across
other contexts, such as the home and neighborhood context.
3.3. Approaches to learning
Children who exhibited socially and academically disruptive behavior (aggressive or inattentive
classroom
problems) early in the year demonstrated lower levels of cooperative, engaged, and attentive learning
behaviors within the classroom. Specifically, aggressive behavior was associated with lower competence
motivation and attitude toward learningtwo dimensions that involve social transactions with learning
(engagement with and responsiveness to teachers and peers). Children who displayed inattentive
behaviors
in the classroom also evidenced lower competence motivation and lower attention/persistenceskills
that involve stability, focus, and attention to tasks within the learning context.
These findings are supported by previous research that has found inverse relationships between
preschool classroom externalizing behavior and all three dimensions of approaches to learning
(McDermott et al., 2002). Disruptive behavior in preschool also has been found to predict lower attention/
persistence and attitude toward learning, while disconnected behavior predicted lower competence
motivation (Fantuzzo et al., 2004). In addition, research with older children utilizing the Adjustment
Scales for Children and Adolescents (ASCA) and the Learning Behaviors Scale (LBS), similarly found
an inverse relationship between overactive classroom behavior (such as inattentive and oppositional
behavior)
and lower learning behavior competencies (McDermott, 1999). Further, in a factor analytic study
of the LBS and ASCA, lower levels of inattentive, aggressive, and oppositional ASCA problem behavior
were associated with higher attentive, persistent, strategic, and flexible learning behaviors. Avoidant
and diffident problem behaviors were associated with lower competence motivation and attitude toward
learning (McDermott, Mordell, & Stoltzfus, 2001).
3.4. Directions for future research
The present study extends research on early classroom behavioral adjustment problems for low-income,
urban children in four distinct ways. First, the study employed a developmentally appropriate and
ecologically
sensitive assessment of childrens difficulties adapting to the demands of multiple preschool
J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275 271

classroom situations. Second, this study utilized a hierarchical model that accounted for the variance
associated with child age, gender, and verbal ability, to determine the unique contribution of early
classroom
behavioral adjustment problems to a comprehensive set of childrens socialemotional outcomes.
Third, this study used a relevant set of socialemotional outcomes assessed at the end of the preschool
year. These socialemotional competencies included self-regulation skills evidenced at school, interactive
peer play behaviors exhibited in the home, and approaches to learning as observed by the teacher. The
inclusion of this last competency adds to the sparse literature on the relationship between preschool
behavior
problems and childrens approaches to learning (NEGP, 1997). Finally, this study further contributes
to previous research by investigating the impact of preschool behavior problems on socialemotional
competencies assessed across both primary contexts of home and school.
As a relatively large-scale investigation of these relationships with urban Head Start children, the
present study had two primary limitationsthe characteristics of the sample and the source of
measurement
for two of the social/emotional variables. As such, this study primarily investigated low-income,
urban, African-American children in Head Start. The application of these findings to other populations
58

of low-income, preschool children is qualified. Next steps should determine whether the relation ships
reported here between early classroom behavior problems and later social/emotional outcomes generalize
to other groups of vulnerable children who are linguistically, ethnically, and regionally different from
the present sample. Furthermore, future studies would be enhanced by collecting key family variables,
such as single-parenthood, maternal education, and maternal depression, which have been associated
with increased risk of childrens later emotional and behavioral difficulty (Raver, 2002; Raver & Knitzer,
2002).
The findings in the present study regarding the relationships between early multidimensional assessments
of classroom adjustment problems and later assessments of emotional regulation and approaches
to learning were qualified by the use of a single source of assessmentthe teacher. The use of teacher
rating scales for these constructs may have contributed to shared method and source variance. There is
a risk that teachers if asked to rate a childs classroom performance early in the school year may hold
on to their judgment at a later point in the year (McNeilly-Choque, Hart, Robinson, Nelson, & Olsen,
1996). However, the use of teacher report measures in this study must be seen within the larger context
of the preschool assessment literature. This literature is characterized by both a lack of psychometrically
sound options for assessing culturally and linguistically diverse preschool children (Lopez et al., 2000),
and a substantiated rationale for using credentialed teachers as a primary source of data on classroom
functioning. Teacher rating scales, particularly the ones used in this study, are the only available measures
of these classroom-based constructs for this population that can be practically administered on a large
scale. Furthermore, teachers are relatively accurate, reliable, and unobtrusive observers of classroom
phenomena (McNeilly-Choque et al., 1996; Schuck, Oehler-Stinnett, & Stinnett, 1995). Because of their
familiarity with many different children over time and their exposure to infrequently occurring, but
significant
behavior, they are natural and valuable informants for classroom behaviors (McNeilly-Choque
et al., 1996). The measures that were used in this study called for teachers to identify/rate observable
behaviors in different classroom situations (e.g., in learning activities, free play, and general classroom
activities). This increases the likelihood that the observed overlap in teachers responses on these
measures
is attributable to consistencies in child behavior across contexts, rather than to teachers rating the
same behaviors on different measures or basing their responses across measures on a single observation
or impression of the child. Nonetheless, future smaller scale studies could test the present findings using
independent observers and assessors to evaluate childrens social/emotional outcomes. Incorporating
272 J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275

outcomes measures from additional sources will enhance our understanding of the relationships under
study.
Further investigations are needed to examine classroom quality and teacher characteristics (e.g., years
of experience, ethnicity, level of training) in relation to childrens classroom behavioral adjustment.
Several
studies demonstrate strong associations between quality early childhood educational experiences
and positive school outcomes (Campbell, Pungello, Miller-Johnson, Burchinal, & Ramey, 2001). Factors
such as teacher-to-child ratio, teacher training, and close teacherstudent relationships in preschool
classrooms
have been linked to better social, emotional, and cognitive outcomes (Burchinal, Peisner-Feinberg,
Bryant, & Clifford, 2000; Howes, Phillipsen, & Peisner-Feinberg, 2000). Studies that employ
hierarchical,
ecological models and include information regarding this important context may serve to illuminate
factors, which ameliorate or exacerbate childrens classroom behavioral adjustment adjustment problems
and later outcomes (Raver, 2002).
3.5. Implications for policy and practice
There are a number of important implications of this research. This study extends our understanding
of classroom behavioral adjustment problems by capturing childrens difficulties within the context of
59

natural, routine preschool situations by key contributors to childrens developmentteachers and


parents
(Fantuzzo, McWayne, & Bulotsky, 2003). This more developmentally and ecologically appropriate
method provides a richer and more accurate assessment of childrens behavior than traditionally used
psychopathology checklists. Information from this assessment approach, allows teachers and teacher
assistants to identify childrens behavior across multiple classroom situations early in the school year.
The teaching team can target relevant situations, creating classroom interventions that may alter problem
behavior across the school year. These interventions can increase access to appropriate services for
children within the natural setting of the preschool classroom (Fantuzzo, McWayne, & Bulotsky, 2003).
Moreover, by identifying difficulties that are common across classrooms, exemplary teachers can share
classroom management and intervention strategies. This dialogue can enhance support amongst teachers,
professional staff, and mental health consultants (Raver & Knitzer, 2002).
Through its extension to incorporate the home context, this study recognized parents voices in the
assessment process. Including parent as well as teacher feedback regarding the contribution of childrens
classroom behavioral adjustment problems to end-of-the-year competencies across home and school
provided an enhanced picture of childrens trajectories. Policies should be implemented to more overtly
and meaningfully include parents in the assessment process to create continuity of involvement, more
genuine connection between home and school, and to foster dialogue regarding early intervention for
children exhibiting difficulties. Because early classroom behavioral adjustment problems are shaped by
factors in both home and school environments, these contexts should be incorporated into interventions
for preschool children (McEvoy &Welker, 2000). The Head Start program represents a strategic place to
develop and test comprehensive interventions because of its explicit two-generation focus, whole-child
perspective, and commitment to professional development of teachers.
The present study underscores the importance of early identification for low-income, urban Head Start
children. These findings provide evidence to further dispel the myth that children will grow out of these
problems (Knitzer, 2003). According to the results of this study, problems persist across time, suggesting
that children with early adaptation difficulties are at higher risk for continued difficulties without timely
identification and intervention. The use of ecologically sensitive, multidimensional scales, like the ASPI,
J.W. Fantuzzo et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 20 (2005) 259275 273

provides ways to examine distinctive classroom behavioral adjustment patterns that can inform
intervention
within the natural preschool classroom context. Information from such scales can also be used to
stimulate educational dialogue regarding appropriate teacher responses to different patterns of behavioral
difficulties, the differential effectiveness of interventions for both overactive (socially disruptive) and
underactive (disengaged) behavior problems, and the dynamic collaboration between home and school.
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Oxford Journals
Social Sciences
British Journal of Social Work
Advance Access

10.1093/bjsw/bcq088

The most recent version of this article [bcq088] was published on 2011-03-15

63

1.
2.

Exploring Stress Resilience in Trainee Social Workers: The Role of


Emotional and Social Competencies
+Author

Gail Kinman* and


Louise Grant

Affiliations

1.

1.

Gail Kinman is Professor of Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Bedfordshire. Her research
interests include work stress, resilience and worklife balance in public sector workers. Louise Grant is a Senior
Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Bedfordshire. She has twenty years' experience in social work
practice and management.
*
Correspondence to Dr Gail Kinman, Department of Psychology, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3JU,
UK. E-mail: gail.kinman@beds.ac.uk
Accepted July 1, 2010.

Abstract
The high levels of stress and burnout endemic to social work have been found to contribute to the
current retention problems in the UK. It has been argued that resilience is a protective factor that
enhances the ability to manage stress, and promotes well-being in the social care context. Little is
known, however, about the individual difference factors that promote resilience in this context, or
whether this protects the well-being of staff. In order to inform the development of interventions to
enhance the work-related well-being of early career social workers, this study examined several
emotional and social competencies (i.e. emotional intelligence, reflective ability, empathy and social
competence) as predictors of resilience in 240 trainees. Whether resilience predicted psychological
distress was also investigated, together with the role played by resilience in the relationship between
emotional intelligence and distress. The emotional and social competencies explained 47 per cent of
variance in resilience. A significant negative relationship was found between resilience and
psychological distress. Resilience fully mediated the negative association between emotional
intelligence and psychological distress, highlighting the importance of inter- and intra-individual
emotional competencies in promoting resilience and enhancing well-being. How these findings might
inform the curriculum to help trainees enhance resistance to workplace stress is considered.
Key words

Resilience

Empathy and reflection

Empathy involves being able to demonstrate perspectivetaking qualities, warmth and personal distress (Grant and
Kinman, 2012) and is central to professional work with
service users. Reflexive awareness or the self's awareness of
how his or her awareness is constituted through direct
experience (Kondrat, 1999, p. 451) is crucial for selfdevelopment. The next extended quotation captures John's
recollection of working with a young person who showed
extraordinary adaptability in the face of difficult personal
circumstances. The young person's resilience touches John
and his own position as a new father brings out his
empathetic concern for this service user (corporate parent).
64

Reflecting on his practice, John is taken back to difficult times


in his own childhood which help him to connect to this young
person:

work-related stress

well-being

Accepted July 1, 2010.


The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights
reserved.

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PROVISIONS OF THE IDEA


Provisions of the IDEA include:
increased involvement by general
education teachers in planning educational
programs;
the use of a variety of services,
supplemental aids and services, and other

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accommodations and modifications that


must be in place for children with disabilities
to succeed;
the use of functional behavioral
assessment to identify the appropriate
positive behavioral supports and strategies;
and
provisions for training personnel (both
special and general educators) to appropriately
provide services to children with
disabilities consistent with the

Bibliography
Rubin, K.H., and L Rose-Krasnor. 1992. Handbook of social development (pp. 283323). New York: Plenum.

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