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Anikó Zsolnai, Márta Lesznyák and László Kasik: Social and emotional competence in preschool age children the development of some selected components

The aim of our research with preschool age children (36–69 months, N=119) was to identify the developmental level of social and emotional skills determining aggressive and prosocial behavior and to reveal associations between these skills and some background factors. We applied two questionnaires (Mize and Ladd, 1988; Tremblay, 1992; a child and a teacher version) and an instrument based on puppet plays (Mize and Ladd, 1988; Murphy and Eisenberg, 1997; child version) in our study. Our data showed that sharing, offering help, name-calling and teasing increase gradually as children grow older. The same tendency could be observed for controlling negative emotions. With regard to gender differences, we found that four- and five-year old and six- and seven-year old girls showed more signs of comforting behavior and offering help than boys. At the same time, boys’ scores were higher than those of girls on the dimension of hitting, but only in the oldest age group. Girls scored higher on expressing emotions in all three age groups. In the youngest age group, girls showed significantly more avoidance behavior than boys, whereas in the oldest age group, boys used significantly more aggressive retaliation than girls. Children attending mixed-age groups were characterized by more sharing, offering help, adult seeking, negotiation and active resistance. Teachers’ ratings and children’s self-ratings were usually closely related, but in the teachers’ perception, only comforting was more common in mixed-age groups. The analysis of correlations between the individual skills indicated that already in the youngest group there are several moderately strong correlations. Consequently, we may assume that the studied skill groups influence each other’s development from a very early age. On the basis of the moderately strong, significant correlations that we found between teachers’ and children’s ratings we hypothesize that the rules and norms of preschool become more obvious for children as they grow older. Consequently, the two groups of judges (children and teachers) tend to give increasingly similar ratings of social behavior. Our results indicate that the correlation between the functioning of the studied skills and the highest educational qualifications obtained by the parents is rather low.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 107. Number 3. 233-270. (2007)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Zsolnai Anikó, SZTE Neveléstudományi Intézet, H–6722 Szeged, Petőfi S. sgt. 30–34. Lesznyák Márta, SZTE, JGYTFK, Alkalmazott Egészségtudományi Tanszék, H–6725 Szeged, Boldogasszony sgt. 6. Kasik László, SZTE Neveléstudományi Intézet, H–6722 Szeged, Petőfi S. sgt. 30–34.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia