Comparison of Emotion Regulation Skills of School-Age Children with and without Stuttering: Preliminary Results

Şükriye Kayhan Aktürk Elif Meryem Ünsal

Introduction: Emotion regulation is to be aware of emotions and able to use them appropriately. This process includes the ability to observe, assess, and change emotional reactions appropriate to the circumstances of the environment (Eisenberg, Fabes, Guthrie, & Reiser, 2000). In the stuttering literature, there are a number of studies that show children with stuttering have a variety of difficulties with emotion regulation (Karrass etc., 2006; Johnson, Walden, Conture, & Karrass, 2010; Arnold, Conture, Key, & Walden, 2011; Zengin-Bolatkale, Conture, Key, Walden, & Jones, 2018). The aim of this study is to compare emotion regulation of school age children with and without stuttering. Method: The study consists of 50 school-age children with (n=25) and without (n=25) stuttering between the ages of 6 and 12. The participants are recruited from Anadolu University Speech and Language Disorders Education, Research, and Therapy Center (DILKOM). Exclusion criteria were having no psychiatric or neurological disorder, less than %3 stuttering rate and concomitant speech and language disorders. In the study, Emotion Regulation Checklist, which was originally developed by Shields and Cicchetti (1997) and adapted to Turkish by Kapçı, Uslu, Akgün and Acer (2009), was used to collect data, in addition to the demographic information form. The Emotion Regulation Checklist was completed by parents, and the demographic information sheet was filled by speech and language therapists. The Emotion Regulation Checklist is a 24-item form, composed of two sub-dimensions named Emotional Lability/Negativity and Emotion Regulation. In the study, these two sub-dimensions and the Composite Emotion Regulation score, which was obtained from total score of these two sub-scales, were used. Statistical analyses were performed with Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 21 software. Kolmogorov-Smirnov test showed that the data was not normally distributed, therefore Mann-Whitney U test was performed to compare the differences between emotion regulation scores of children with and without stuttering. The effect sizes of Mann-Whitney U test results were calculated with r = Z/√n formula (Fritz, Morris ve Richler, 2012). Results: The difference between Emotional Lability/Negativity sub-dimension scores of children with and without stuttering was found to be statistically significant. Emotional Lability/Negativity scores of children with stuttering were higher than children without stuttering (U = 180,500; z =-2,567, p <.05, r=-36). Statistically significant difference was found between the Emotion Regulation scores of the groups with and without stuttering (U = 206,000; z = -2,080, p <.05, r = -. 29). The Emotion Regulation subdimension scores of children with stuttering were significantly higher than children without stuttering, which implies that, children with stuttering have lower emotional regulation. In terms of the Composite Emotion Regulation score which is the sum of the scores obtained from both sub-dimensions, statistically significant difference was found between the groups with and without stuttering (U = 197,500, z = 2,235, p <.05, r = -. 32). The Integrated Emotion Regulation scores of the stuttering group were higher than the stuttering group, which shows that emotional regulation abilities of children with stuttering were weaker than children without stuttering. Effect sizes of the statistical difference between the groups were found to be ranged from weak to moderate. Discussion: The results of the study showed that children with stuttering had higher scores in the Emotion Regulation, Emotion Variability/Negation sub-dimensions, and Composite Emotion Regulation than children without stuttering. When these results were examined, it was observed that the mood swings and anger reactions were more intense in the school-age stuttering group than the non-stuttering group. It was seen that they have difficulty adjusting adaptive emotions such as understanding emotions, empathy and cautiousness, and in general, their emotion regulation skills are weaker. These results are in line with the findings in the literature regarding emotion regulation skills of preschool children (Karrass et al., 2006; Johnson et al., 2010; Arnold et al., 2011). When assessing children with stuttering, it is important that language and speech therapists make the necessary environmental arrangements considering their clients’ emotion regulation skills. Collaboration with family and school counselors during the therapy process will positively affect the emotion regulation of the child. This is expected to increase the benefit obtained from stuttering therapy. 


Stuttering, fluency disorder, emotion regulation, school-age, children


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