Speaker: Professor Sherri Widen, Stanford University
Talk title: Children's Understanding of Emotion: From Basic Research to Intervention
This talk will look at children’s understanding of emotion and how it changes developmentally and through intervention. From a developmental basic research perspective, children initially understand emotion in terms of valence (feels good vs. feels bad). With experience and development, children gradually differentiate these broad categories into smaller and more discrete categories. Interventions provide opportunities to improve children’s outcomes and to ask questions about the effects of explicitly teaching children about emotions and other social-emotional skills. Preschool RULER is a classroom intervention that strives to increase children’s social-emotional skills and improve classroom climate. Children with higher emotion understanding and other social-emotional skills have better social and academic outcomes. In a randomized control trial, preschoolers from low-income families who were in the intervention caught up to peers from higher (but still low) income families in their recognition of facial expressions. Ready4K is a parenting intervention in which parents receive weekly texts designed to help them support their preschoolers’ school readiness skills (literacy, math, social-emotional). Ready4K has successfully increased parents’ at-home school-readiness activities and children’s early academic skills. In a new application of this intervention, texts were sent to informal caregivers to help them support 2-4-year-olds’ school readiness skills. In an initial pilot study, caregivers received texts to help them support children’s social-emotional and literacy skills and to increase their engagement with the children. The caregivers reported liking the texts and finding them useful. Next steps include doing an RCT of the informal caregiver intervention and assessing both the caregivers and children to test the effects of this intervention.