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Changes in Social-Emotional Skills and Behaviour in Preschool Children after Participation in the Promoting Mental Health at Schools Program: The Social-Emotional Skills of Parents as a Mediator

Inga Supe1, Baiba Martinsone1, Carmel Cefai2, Elisabetta Conte3
1 Department of Psychology, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia
2 Department of Psychology, University of Malta, Msida, Malta
3 Department of Human Sciences for Education “R. Massa,” University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

Abstract. The social-emotional skills of preschool children develop at a rapid pace. How this development occurs is closely related to the child’s environment. The social-emotional skills of the parents themselves play an important role in the development of a preschool child’s social-emotional skills and have a strong influence on the development of children’s prosocial behaviour and a reduction in behavioural problems (both internalised and externalised).
The aim of this study is to find out how the indicators of social-emotional competence and behaviour of preschool children change after participating in the Promoting Mental Health at Schools programme, based on teachers’ assessments. What is the relationship between the social-emotional skills of parents (parents’ assessment) and the social-emotional skills and behaviour of their children (teachers’ assessment)? Do higher SE skills of parents (self-assessed) mediate the growth of children’s social-emotional skills (as assessed by teachers)?
As part of the Erasmus+ research project “Promoting Mental Health at Schools” (PROMEHS), a quasi-experimental study was carried out with pre-test and post-test measurements in experimental and control groups. It was found that in the sample of Latvian pre-schoolers, the teachers from the experimental group noticed the decrease in children’s behavioural difficulties and increase in prosocial behaviour and social-emotional skills in the experimental group were rated slightly higher in comparison with control group. Teachers rated children’s social understanding and relationship skills higher when parents indicated that the relationship with their child was better. A higher level of social-emotional competence of parents correlated negatively with children’s conduct problems. This study did not find that parents played a statistically significant role as mediators in the promotion of children’s social-emotional competence during implementation of the programme.

Keywords: emotional and behavioural difficulties, parents’ social emotional skills, PROMEHS, prosocial behaviour, preschool children, social-emotional skills

To Be or Not to Be a Great Educator, 2022. Proceedings of ATEE Annual Conference
Riga: University of Latvia Press, 2023. 985 p.
EdL. Daniela
ISBN 978-9934-36-019-0