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December/January 2018Vol. 18, No. 9Helping Maltreated Children Understand and Recognize Emotions

Maltreatment has been shown to stunt a child's ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others, which can lead to difficulties in navigating and cultivating interpersonal relationships, such as parent-child and peer relationships.

The Practice Notes issue, "Helping Maltreated Children Understand and Recognize Emotions," provides suggestions for child welfare workers and others who interact with children who have been maltreated, including the following:

  • Maintain a higher level of awareness about these children's potential for misinterpreting emotional cues and corresponding behaviors
  • Help resource and kinship families understand the underlying reasons behind a child's challenges in perceiving emotions
  • Support children and families during times of high stress, as these may be the times when a child can experience increased misperceptions
  • Work with key stakeholders, such as school personnel and mental health providers, to increase their understanding of these children's challenges in reading emotional cues

The issue also includes a case example as well as reflection questions child welfare workers can keep in mind as they work with children with a history of maltreatment, such as "How can you bring this research/information to your work team(s) or into supervision?" and "What are some examples you've seen in your work that might be explained by children misreading facial emotional cues?"

"Helping Maltreated Children Understand and Recognize Emotions" is available at (339 KB).