The Role of Imagination and Anticipation in Children’s Emotional Development

Susan Elaine March, Marilyn Fleer

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A cultural-historical reading of emotions foregrounds the dynamic relations between emotions and feelings. But this relation has not been fully studied from a cultural-historical perspective in contemporary contexts, particularly in preschool settings where young children’s emotion regulation is in the process of development. Emotion regulation is theorised in this chapter as the dynamic interplay of inter psychological and in trapsychological functioning during moments of emotion expression. In this chapter, the findings of a close study of the conditions for supporting one child’s emotional development is presented. This study draws upon the overall findings of the first named author’s PhD, which investigated the conditions for child development in multi-age group settings where the cultural device of fairy tales was used (three educators and 25 children age range 1.8–5 years, mean age 3.4 and three focus families). An analysis of one child’s experiences during emotionally charged situations taken from the data set of 40 h of preschool and 20 h of focus family video observations highlighted the importance of imagined, anticipatory emotional situations for the process of emotion regulation.Specifically, the findings show how the expressive pattern for each emotion (anticipatory and present) is held in tension. Invoking the imaginary situation seems to be an effective strategy for adult help in calming raw emotion expression and making emotions more conscious for the child as a particular feeling state. It is argued that a cultural-historical reading of emotion regulation contributes to a better understanding of children’s emotional development where imagination and emotional anticipation were found to have a central role for supporting a child’s emotion regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerezhivanie, Emotions and Subjectivity
Subtitle of host publicationAdvancing Vygotsky’s Legacy
EditorsMarilyn Fleer, Fernando González Rey, Nikolai Veresov
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9789811045349
ISBN (Print)9789811045325
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Cultural-Historical Research

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