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Are some feelings just too big for child care?: An exploratory study of Early Childhood Educator’s interpretations of internalizing and externalizing behaviours

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posted on 23.05.2021, 13:25 by Unknown Author
Young children are at high risk for exposure to trauma and adverse childhood experiences, yet mental health services are limited for this age group. Children’s emotional pain is manifested in their behaviours, which are referred to as externalizing (e.g., aggression) and internalizing (e.g., anxiety) behaviours. Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) are bound to encounter children who exhibit this type of behaviour without knowing what it could mean. Therefore, this online mixed method pilot study examined the interpretations that ECEs used to determine the causes of behaviour, and their awareness of emotional distress in very young children in three written case vignettes. It also explored the strategies that ECEs engage in when responding to a child in distress. The findings provide insight to the gaps in pre-service education on children’s emotional health, and communicates the need for a trauma-informed approach to childcare. Keywords: children’s mental health, behaviour, interpretation, trauma-informed approach





Master of Arts


Early Childhood Studies

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Kim Snow