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Chapter 1

                     Language is a fundamental tool which enables us to communicate with and learn from
               others. When children have difficulties to develop language, this impedes their social-emotional
               development (Dunn, Brown, & Beardsell, 1991; Saarni, 1999; Salmon, O’Kearney, Reese, &
               Fortune, 2016). Approximately two children in every classroom experience severe problems
               developing and using their first language, without a clear cause for these language problems
               (Norbury et al., 2016; Tomblin et al., 1997). These children may have Developmental Language
               Disorder (DLD) and have an increased risk for the development of psychosocial problems,
               including social problems (such as victimization and friendship problems), internalizing
               problems (such as social anxiety and depressive symptoms) and externalizing problems (such
               as aggression; Durkin & Conti-Ramsden, 2010; Yew & O'Kearney, 2013).
                     In the current project, we examined the level and development of psychosocial problems
               in children and adolescents with and without DLD and examined the underlying mechanisms
               causing these problems. Specifically, we examined whether the severity  of communication
               problems explained higher levels of psychosocial problems, or whether these relations were
               mediated by  children’s  emotional competence, that is the ability to recognize, understand,
               regulate and express emotions in socially accepted ways (Saarni, 1999).
                     Emotions provide  us  with a  sense of  urgency to act on situations (Scherer,  2000).
               However, simply acting out emotions is often  not adaptive in our complex social world.
               Children have to learn to use their emotions in a constructive manner. Therefore, children need
               to gain control over their impulses, gain understanding of their own and others’ emotions and
               intentions, regulate the level of their emotions  and learn to think ahead: what are the
               consequences of my emotional reaction and how can I reach my goal? This learning process is
               facilitated by the  communication of children with their  social environment (Eisenberg,
               Sadovsky, Spinrad, 2005; Saarni, 1999; Schaffer, 2005). If children experience difficulties in
               aspects of emotional competence, this is an important risk factor for different psychosocial
               problems (Gross & Jazaiere, 2014; Fernandez & Johnson, 2016; Rieffe, Oosterveld, Miers,
               Meerum-Terwogt, & Ly, 2008). When communication problems not only have a direct effect
               on the development of psychosocial problems, but also an indirect effect through their
               emotional competence, this has important implications for interventions.

               Developmental Language Disorder
                     Most children develop language without much  difficulty if they  receive sufficient
               language input. Children react to the language of people around them and learn to match certain
               sounds or signs to objects, people, or events. Gradually they start expressing themselves through
               sounds and signs and soon after through words and sentences. Typically, the understanding of
               language precedes the production of language.  Both language  areas develop steadily until
               children are able to express their needs, wishes, thoughts, and fantasies through language and
               engage in meaningful conversations with people around them. Throughout childhood and
               adolescence, the language skills of children further increase. Children learn new words and can

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