Observation of children's emotional expressions in family home centers



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This research was focussed on the behavioral expressions of emotions in infants and young children and the overt coping behavior of the children and their caregivers. Events that upset infants and young children, children's reaction's to upsetting events and the management of emotions were recorded and studied through observation of children's and caregiver's behavior. A series of 2 (Age) by 2 (Sex) analyses of variance was conducted on observational data. The dependent variables were the upsetting events (nine categories of upsetting situations), the children's emotional responses (four categories of responses), and children's coping behavior and caregiver's comforting methods ( nine categories of coping strategies). 2 scores were computed to examine the relationship between certain situations, responses and methods. Restriction was the most common cause of distress; fear was the least common. The most commonly observed response was crying; physical aggression was the least common. Child problem solving was the most common coping method, and Child initiates physical contact was the least common. Younger children became upset more frequently than the older children, and three of the upsetting situations showed significant age effects: loss of object (more common for older children), desires contact, and no apparent reason (more common for younger children). There were no significant differences between the sexes in relation to upsetting events. Significant age differences were found for three of the response codes: crying (more common for younger children), physical aggression, and opposition (more common for older children), but again there were no significant differences between the sexes. Significant age differences were found for four coping strategies used by the child or the caregiver to deal with the distressing events: caregiver distracts, caretaking, child distracts self (more common for younger children) and caregiver reassurance (more common for older children), but no significant sex differences were found for the coping methods. Z scores showed that there were significant relationships between certain situations and certain responses or methods. In general caregivers were more nurturant in response to upset in girls than to upset in boys. In contrast, caregivers left boys to solve their problems on their own more often than they did for girls.



Emotions in children, Emotions in infants