Social cognitions in children with emotional and behavioural problems
The existence of emotional and behavioural problems in young children has been extensively documented. Such problems have a substantial impact on children themselves, their families, their schools, and society more generally. A basic tenet of social cognitive psychology is that the way people think in their daily lives about themselves and their social world is linked with the way they behave. Based on this assumption, the main aim of this thesis was to explore whether and how children who show emotional and behavioural problems in the first year of primary school, differ from their nonproblem peers in the way they think about themselves and their relationships with their mothers, teachers and peers. Three studies were carried out. The first two dealt with the development of a standardised procedure for identifying emotional and behavioural problems in children in the first year of primary school. The third study endeavoured to explore social cognitions of the selected children. In the first study, 61 reception class teachers in London (England) evaluated three existing behaviour rating scales by providing assessments for children in their classes. One of these scales was further evaluated for use In India, In a normative study of 488 children. Using this measure, 210 children attending the first year In 26 primary schools were selected. Of these, 115 formed the target group- showing emotional and behavioural problems and the rest were their comparison children- free from reported problems but matched on gender within the same class. The children's social cognitions were examined in individual interviews. The measures used included the Harter Scale, Cassidy's Incomplete Stories With Doll Families and the Puppet Interview. The children in the target group scored significantly lower than the comparison group on all the measures except the Puppet Interview, depicting a less positive view of themselves and their relationships with their mothers, teachers and peers. Follow up analyses indicated that the differences in the two groups were largely due to those children who showed internalising or multiple problems. Children showing predominantly externalising problems did not differ significantly from their comparisons. The findings add to the literature by showing that a meaningful link exists.