Can Positive Aspects of Emotional Competence Prevent Internalizing Symptoms?

Samson, A. C., van den Bedem, N. P., Dukes, D., & Rieffe, C. (2020). Positive Aspects of Emotional Competence in Preventing Internalizing Symptoms in Children with and without Developmental Language Disorder: A Longitudinal Approach. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 1-13.

Aim of the paper:

Previous research has suggested that children with developmental language disorder (DLD) experience a higher level of internalising problems. Internalising problems are mood problems, such depression and anxiety symptoms. In young children these can sometimes be complaints about their body, such as tummy aches. This study looks at whether positive emotions, emotional awareness, bodily awareness and communication skills protect children with or without DLD from developing internalising problems.

  • Bodily awareness is how much children notice how their body reacts when they experience emotion.

What they found:


  • Higher level of happiness and emotion awareness, as well as lower level of bodily awareness, are related to lower level of internalising problems (complaints about the body and social anxiety) in children with and without DLD.

  • Problems in emotion communication (being able to talk about emotion) is related to more complaints about the body but not to social anxiety in children with and without DLD.

  • Problems in general communication are related to social anxiety in children with DLD, but only when positive emotions and emotion awareness are also taken into consideration.


What does this mean?

While better communication skills may help reduce internalising problems, positive emotions and emotion awareness still play an important role in protecting children from internalising problems. Language and communication interventions alone may not be enough to prevent or reduce internalising problems in children with DLD.


Therefore, this paper suggests that programmes and activities focusing on improving emotion awareness, alongside programmes focusing on language improvement, may be more promising in terms of reducing internalising problems in children with DLD.


Where can I read this paper?


This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.

Please click here to find the full paper.