The emotion-based prevention program (EBP), which now contains an Emotions Course for Parents as well as one for young children, is designed to increase emotion knowledge (understanding of the expressions, feeling states, and functions of emotions), emotion regulatory ability, and the adaptive use of emotion motivation. The research that led to the development of EBP showed that emotion knowledge and emotion regulation consistently related to increases in children's adaptive behavior and decreases in maladaptive behavior. The preliminary research on EBP showed that it accelerated the development of emotion knowledge. It also provided tentative evidence that emotion knowledge facilitated the development of emotion regulation. In turn, emotion competence, defined in terms of both emotion knowledge and emotion regulation, facilitated the development of social competence and a decrease in the prevalence of disruptive, aggressive, and internalizing behavior in economically disadvantaged children. Our previous research also showed that the amount of parents'participation in EBP activities contributed to its beneficial effects on their children and inspired the addition of the Emotions Course Parent to EBP. We will randomly divide Head Start Centers for an EBP-treatment and a comparison-treatment (I Can Problem Solve). The proposed research is designed to (1) strengthen and extend the existing findings on the effectiveness of EBP as a preventive intervention for inner-city Head Start children;(2) examine more thoroughly the role of emotion knowledge as a causal mechanism in the development of emotion regulation;(3) further evaluate the role of emotion competence, defined in terms of emotion knowledge and emotion regulation, as a causal factor in the development of adaptive social behavior;and (4) evaluate the role of child temperament factors, mothers'emotion competence, level of maternal depressive symptoms, and contextual risk factors (single parent status, number of residential moves, and number of changes in partners) as causal factors in the development of children's emotion competence and social behavior.

Public Health Relevance

Because our previous longitudinal studies showed that emotion knowledge is a significant predictor of academic competence (measured by both teacher ratings and child assessment), we expect EBP to improve children's performance in school as well as their emotional and social adjustment. Improvement in Head Start parents'and children's emotion competence and social functioning is expected to have beneficial effects on the behavioral aspects of mental and physical health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Sarampote, Christopher S
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University of Delaware
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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