University of Oulu

Paavola-Ruotsalainen, Leila; Rantalainen, Katariina; Alakortes, Jaana; Carter, Alice C.; Ebeling, Hanna E.; Kunnari, Sari (2018) Social-emotional/behavioural problems and competencies in toddlers : relationships with early vocabulary development. Journal of Early Childhood Education Research Volume 7, Issue 2, 2018, pp. 184–206.

Social-emotional/behavioural problems and competencies in toddlers : relationships with early vocabulary development

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Author: Paavola-Ruotsalainen, Leila1; Rantalainen, Katariina1,2; Alakortes, Jaana3,4;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Humanities, Logopedics, Child Language Research Center, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Coronaria Oy Ltd, Therapy Center, Kotka, Finland
3PEDEGO Research Unit, Clinic of Child Psychiatry, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Unit of Child Psychiatry, Health Care Services for Families with Children, Family Services, Kainuu Social and Health Care Joint Authority, Kajaani, Finland
5Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA
6Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Suomen varhaiskasvatus, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-01-29


This longitudinal study aimed at showing the effect of early social-emotional/behavioural problems and competencies on vocabulary development in toddlers. The participants were 60 native Finnish-speaking healthy children (30 boys and 30 girls). Parental reports on the Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA) were gathered at the children’s age of 18 months. The Problem Total and Competence Total, as well as externalizing, internalizing and dysregulation problem domain, scores were calculated. Vocabulary development was assessed by a certified speech and language therapist at ages 24 and 30 months using the Receptive and Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Tests (ROWPVT-4 and EOWPVT-4). Compared to boys, girls obtained higher Competence Total scores and scored considerably higher in all the vocabulary measures. With regard to the relationships between early social-emotional/behavioural problems and vocabulary measures, Problem Total scores correlated negatively with receptive vocabulary scores at 24 months and expressive vocabulary scores at 30 months. Further analyses indicated that particularly externalizing problems were associated with slower vocabulary development. By contrast, Competence Total scores correlated positively with expressive vocabulary at 30 months. The same analyses were carried out separately for boys and girls. Mostly, the separate findings were in line with the results for the whole group of children.

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Series: Journal of early childhood education research
ISSN: 2323-7414
ISSN-E: 2323-7414
ISSN-L: 2323-7414
Volume: 7
Issue: 2
Pages: 184 - 206
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
516 Educational sciences
6121 Languages
616 Other humanities
Copyright information: © 2018 Paavola-Ruotsalainen, Rantalainen, Alakortes, Carter, Ebeling and Kunnari & Suomen Varhaiskasvatus ry. – Early Childhood Education Association Finland.