Early childhood trauma in high-risk families: associations with caregiver emotional availability and insightfulness, and children’s social information processing and social behavior

Yair Ziv, Kristen L.Capps Umphlet, Stephanie Olarte, Jimmy Venza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The links between exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), caregiver insightfulness and emotional availability, and the child’s social information processing (SIP) and social behavior were examined in a sample of 15 preschool children enrolled in a Therapeutic Nursery Program (TNP). Children are typically referred to the TNP due to significant delays in their social emotional development that often result in difficulty functioning in typical childcare, home, and community settings. Caregiver insightfulness was measured via an interview with the caregiver. Emotional availability was coded based on observations of caregiver–child interactions. The child’s SIP patterns were measured in an interview, and the child’s behavior in preschool was assessed by teacher reports. Higher levels of exposure to ACE were hypothesized to be related to lower levels of caregiver emotional availability and insightfulness and to higher levels of the children’s perceptual (i.e. SIP) and behavioral maladjustment. It was also hypothesized that caregiver emotional availability and insightfulness would be associated with one another and significantly associated with children’s perceptions and behaviors. Caregivers reporting higher levels of exposure exhibited lower levels of insightfulness and emotional availability. No such associations were found between the child’s exposure to ACE and the caregivers’ perceptions and behaviors. In addition, more insightful caregivers showed higher levels of emotional availability. Finally, children with more emotionally available caregivers showed more competent SIP and social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-332
Number of pages24
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Yair Ziv, Department of Counseling and Human Development, University of Haifa. Kristen Capps, Stephanie Olarte and Jimmy Venza, The Lourie Center for Children’s Social and Emotional Wellness. The authors would like to thank all families and Lourie center staff participating in this study. A special thanks to Shirley Williams who helped with data collection. This research was made possible through the generous support of M&T Charitable Foundation and Lourie Center supporters.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • emotional availability
  • insightfulness
  • social information processing
  • social skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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