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Children’s Perspectives on Emotions Informing a Child-Reported Screening Instrument

Abstract

To accurately assess children’s emotional and behavioral distress via self-report, we must design instruments that are meaningful to them. This study was an essential first step in co-designing digitally animated assessment items for a new self-reported screening instrument for children: “name Blinded for Review”. Twenty children aged five to 11 years participated in semi-structured small group interviews to discuss 15 pairs of contrasting emotional and behavioral constructs (EBC’s). Interview questions were designed to determine how children comprehend, express, and recognize these EBC’s and were correlated to the following five categories to aid the development of the animated items: lexical understanding, visual expression, narrative settings, behavioral actions, and audio cues. Data were analyzed by cataloguing common responses for each EBC across the five categories and examining whether age-specific response typologies were apparent. Except for lexical labeling abilities, results indicated a distinct lack of age-related differences in children’s comprehension of physical and expressive displays of EBC’s between age group levels. This highlights the importance of audio-visual depictions of EBC’s over written text. Typology tables for each of the construct pairs were produced describing corresponding visual demonstrations, narrative contexts, behavioral actions, and audio cues shared by all children. These typologies provide insight into the child’s perspective of socio-emotional and behavioral archetypes and were utilized to inform the development of animated items for a novel screening tool. This study utilized co-design methodologies and produced datasets that may inform the development of mental health tools, interventions, or activities for children concerning emotional and behavioral concepts.

Highlights

  • Audiovisual depictions of emotions and behaviours are promising assessment items for collecting child reported data.

  • Narrative contexts and visually expressive movements enhance children’s understanding of emotions and behaviours.

  • Age differences in verbal labeling ability does not constrain emotion understanding when multisensory data is integrated.

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Funding

This research was supported by an Australian Commonwealth Government Research Training Scheme scholarship.

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Correspondence to Kirsty L. Zieschank.

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Zieschank, K.L., Machin, T., Day, J. et al. Children’s Perspectives on Emotions Informing a Child-Reported Screening Instrument. J Child Fam Stud (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02086-z

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Keywords

  • Child perspective
  • Emotions
  • Behaviors
  • Screening instruments
  • Assessment