Play interventions supporting the social and emotional development of preschool children with externalizing emotional and behavioral difficulties : A systematic literature review from 2000 to 2017

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/HLK, CHILD

Abstract: The number of preschool children displaying externalizing emotional and behavioral difficulties is constantly increasing. At the same time, these children often lack social and emotional skills as well. Even though more and more children display this noticeable behavior and preschool teachers are constantly reporting being overwhelmed with these children’s behavior in preschool, a high number of children do not receive any support or intervention. Play provides appropriate means to support children’s social and emotional development as play has a significant importance in young children’s development. The aim of this systematic literature review is to get a better understanding through previous research on which play interventions have been found to facilitate the social-emotional development in preschool children with externalizing emotional and behavioral difficulties. Six studies with six different play-oriented interventions have been identified through this review. The results show that all interventions had either positive outcomes on the social-emotional development or show a decrease in emotional or behavioral difficulties. The factors which have been found as facilitating to these outcomes were use of play, intervention setting, awareness of others, involvement of licensed professionals, a safe environment and culturally and ethnically representative toys. This review provides a comprehensive overview on effective play-based interventions in preschool setting. However, further research is needed to examine individual environmental, familial and participation factors as well as specific training for preschool teachers.

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