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A Cross-Lagged Analysis of Emotion Regulation, Peer Problems, and Emotional Problems in Children With and Without Early Language Difficulties: Evidence From the Millennium Cohort Study.

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Forrest, Claire L 
Gibson, Jenny L 
Halligan, Sarah L 
St Clair, Michelle C 


Purpose Adolescents with a history of language difficulties are at risk for increased social and emotional difficulties; however, the pathways involved are unclear. We examine the contribution of poor emotion regulation by comparing longitudinal data from children at risk of developmental language disorder (rDLD) and the general population. Method Data from the Millennium Cohort Study were analyzed at ages 3, 5, 7, 11, and 14 years. The rDLD group (children with parent-reported difficulties and/or a score of -1.5 SDs on the Naming Vocabulary subtest at age 5 years) was compared to a general population group on parent reports of emotion regulation, peer problems, and emotional problems. Results In line with the established literature, increased socioemotional problems in individuals with language difficulties were reported. Poor emotion regulation consistently predicted subsequent peer and emotional problems throughout development in both groups. Stronger cross-lag effects were found in the rDLD group for poor emotion regulation at age 3 years predicting age 5 years emotional problems and age 5 years emotional problems predicting age 7 years emotion regulation difficulties. Stronger reciprocal cross-lag effects were also observed in the rDLD group between peer and emotional problems at ages 3 and 5 years. No significant group differences were found in adolescence. Conclusions Poor emotion regulation makes a small but significant contribution to later peer and emotional difficulties, and this relationship is stronger in children at rDLD. Early reciprocal peer and emotional difficulties are also stronger in the rDLD group, but these effects dissipate in midchildhood. Nevertheless, the consistent relationship between early emotion regulation difficulties and socioemotional problems throughout development warrants further investigation in individuals with lower language skills. Supplemental Material



Adolescent, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Emotional Regulation, Emotions, Humans, Language Development Disorders, Longitudinal Studies, Peer Group

Journal Title

J Speech Lang Hear Res

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American Speech Language Hearing Association


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