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Beliefs about emotional competencies, arising from prior experience, training etc., are also important for engaging in social interaction and effortful affect regulation (e.g., Tamir et al., 2007). Thus, having good emotional competencies may buffer children from the experience of prolonged internalizing behaviors (i.e., loneliness and depression). Findings indicate that emotional skills (AEI) are important for predicting the maintenance of depressive symptoms and loneliness in children over 1 year; emotional self-competency (TEI) is less influential, only contributing to long-term loneliness in girls. Delineating components of emotion and its dysregulation in anxiety and mood psychopathology. Moreover, whilst deficiencies in the ability to perceive and understand emotions were predictive of prolonged symptomatology, so, too, were proficiencies in using emotion to facilitate thinking and emotion management.

Additionally, being adept at managing feelings, particularly negative affect, in a given situation should enable young people to deal with changes and challenges when they arise. Although a recent meta-analysis suggested there has been no worsening of internalizing symptoms in the last decade among children and toddlers (Bor et al., 2014), when emotional distress among children is assessed through self-reports, a rise is evident (Husky et al., 2018). Thus it appears that once children have the cognitive capacity to self-report on their feelings, we are able to gain insight into the prevalence of depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness that, by their very nature, may not be visible to external observers. But, those skills are also crucial for understanding wellbeing, including mental health and social connection, during the childhood years. Internalizing problems among children have increased (Kieling et al., 2011; Husky et al., 2018) and feelings of loneliness are a particular issue, with 14% of children aged 10–12 reporting that they often feel lonely (Office for National Statistics [ONS], 2018a).

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