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Emotional competence mediates the relationship between communication problems and reactive externalizing problems in children with and without developmental language disorder: A longitudinal study

van den Bedem, NP; Dockrell, JE; van Alphen, PM; Rieffe, C; (2020) Emotional competence mediates the relationship between communication problems and reactive externalizing problems in children with and without developmental language disorder: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health , 17 (16) , Article 6008. 10.3390/ijerph17166008. Green open access

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Abstract

Language problems are a risk factor for externalizing problems, but the developmental path remains unclear. Emotional competence may mediate the relationship, especially when externalizing problems are reactive in nature, such as in Oppositional Deviant Disorder (ODD) and reactive aggression. We examined the development of reactive and proactive externalizing problems in children with (n = 98) and without (n = 156) Developmental Language Disorder (DLD; age: 8–16 years) over 18 months. Relationships with communicative risk factors (structural, pragmatic and emotion communication) and the mediating role of emotional competence (emotion recognition and anger dysregulation) were examined. Multi-level analyses showed that increasing emotion recognition and decreasing anger dysregulation were longitudinally related to decreasing ODD symptoms in both groups, whereas anger dysregulation was related to more reactive aggression in children with DLD alone. Pragmatic and emotion communication problems were related to more reactive externalizing problems, but these relationships were mediated by emotional competence, suggesting that problems in emotional competence explain the communication problems of children with DLD. Therefore, in addition to interventions for communication skills, there is a need to address the emotional competence of children with DLD, as this decreases the risk for reactive externalizing problems.

Type: Article
Title: Emotional competence mediates the relationship between communication problems and reactive externalizing problems in children with and without developmental language disorder: A longitudinal study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17166008
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17166008
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: reactive aggression; proactive aggression; DLD; SLI; emotion regulation; emotion recognition; development; adolescence
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10109044
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