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Open AccessArticle

Emotional Competence Mediates the Relationship between Communication Problems and Reactive Externalizing Problems in Children with and without Developmental Language Disorder: A Longitudinal Study

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Developmental Psychology, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333AK Leiden, The Netherlands
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Department of Psychology and Human Development, University College London, 25 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA, UK
3
Royal Dutch Kentalis, Theerestraat 42, 5271 GD Sint-Michielsgestel, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 6008; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17166008
Received: 29 May 2020 / Revised: 17 July 2020 / Accepted: 23 July 2020 / Published: 18 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Language Disorder on Child and Adolescent Outcomes)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: reactive aggression; proactive aggression; DLD; SLI; emotion regulation; emotion recognition; development; adolescence reactive aggression; proactive aggression; DLD; SLI; emotion regulation; emotion recognition; development; adolescence
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van den Bedem, N.P.; Dockrell, J.E.; van Alphen, P.M.; Rieffe, C. Emotional Competence Mediates the Relationship between Communication Problems and Reactive Externalizing Problems in Children with and without Developmental Language Disorder: A Longitudinal Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6008.

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