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Post-conflict non-affiliative behavioural strategies and subsequent social interaction in preschool boys with language impairment in comparison to preschool boys with typical language skills

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Conflicts between 20 boys (4–6 years old) with typical language development (TL) and between 11 boys (4–7 years old) with Language Impairment (LI) were examined in naturalistic preschool settings. Post-conflict aggression, passive withdrawal (auto-manipulation/irrelevant vocalizations) and active withdrawal (leaving conflict scene) were examined in relation to preceding behavioural situations and the likelihood of social interaction after conflict management. The boys with TL tended to display aggression to a greater extent than the boys with LI in conflicts with pre-conflict social interaction and in the role of conflict victim. However it was revealed that the boys with TL displayed passive withdrawal significantly more often in conflicts without pre-conflict social interaction than in conflicts with pre-conflict interaction. When in the role of conflict victims the boys with LI conducted active withdrawal significantly more than the boys with TL. Reconciliation (former opponents exchange friendly contact following conflict termination) has been shown to facilitate social interaction after terminated conflict management. However, this link appeared to be weakened significantly when initial post-conflict responses were active withdrawal (more representative LI strategy) than after reconciled conflicts without active withdrawal. Clinical treatment and educational intervention should address emotional regulation and referential communication to facilitate developmental social interaction.

Affiliations: 1: Karolinska Institutet, Department of Woman and Child Health, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Q3:04, 171 76, Stockholm, Sweden; 2: The Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Solna, Sweden; 3: Research and development Centre, Sörmland County Council, Eskilstuna, Sweden


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