The Contributions of Language and Behavioral Synchrony in Developing Affect Regulation in High-Risk Children


Biological vulnerability translates into behavioral risks that often extend beyond the infancy period. Pre-term children born low birth weight are at risk for behavioral and emotional difficulties, however, little is known about how these difficulties manifest and interact with biological risk and environmental factors. This study examined the extent to which children’s language and dyadic relationship factors facilitate affect regulation and behavior problems in low birth weight children (LBW). Sixty-eight preschool-age children and their mothers participated in the study. Children were administered an assessment of cognitive functioning in which verbal ability was examined, and engaged in a laboratory frustration task designed to elicit negative affect to assess emotion regulation. Results revealed correlations among verbal ability, behavior problems, behavioral synchrony, and emotion regulation. Group differences were found in verbal ability and positive affect in which LBW children demonstrated lower verbal ability scores and less positive affect than full-term children. For the full sample, behavior synchrony moderated the relationship between verbal ability and negative emotion regulation. The results provide evidence of the importance of the functional role of language and dyadic relations in the development of affect regulation and behavior problems. The results also elucidate the importance of integrating social emotional information in developing interventions for pre-term children.

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Adger-Antonikowski, A. and Halpern, L. (2014) The Contributions of Language and Behavioral Synchrony in Developing Affect Regulation in High-Risk Children. Open Journal of Medical Psychology, 3, 271-280. doi: 10.4236/ojmp.2014.33028.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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