To What Extent Do Young Children Differ from Older Children in their Interactions Linguistically, Socially and Emotionally with Adults in Close Family Relationships?

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Type of Academic Paper – Dissertation Chapter

Academic Subject – Education

Word Count – 2897 words



Project Design

In the following research study, the researcher or observer has adopted a quantitative research design to determine how young children are different from older children in their interactions with adults socially, linguistically, and emotionally in close family relationships. According to Maxwell (2012), the qualitative research design is a subjective, formal, and systematic process for acquiring information or data about the world; presented in theoretical form, and examined using the patterns or trends. On the other hand, Hennink, Hutter, and Bailey (2010) stated that qualitative research design is used to understand underlying opinions, reasons, and motivations. Moreover, it is stated by Creswell and Poth (2017) that the qualitative research design considers the emotions and views of people and incorporates them in a study. The qualitative research design enables the investigator to collect data from participants while taking interviews and observing them in the natural phenomenon.

In particular, the qualitative research design is concerned with the event, patterns, and relationships of participants with the natural phenomenon (Corbin, Strauss, and Strauss, 2014). The reason behind selecting this project design is that it is useful during the early phases of research when the researcher or examiner may be uncertain of what will be examined or what to focus on. Best and Kahn (2016) stated that the qualitative research design is the essential research design as it gives the researcher the freedom to let the research outspread more naturally. Another benefit of qualitative research is that it gives the researcher more rich and detailed data in comprehensive visual evidence or written descriptions. There are different approaches to qualitative research design that can be used by the researcher, such as case study, observation, focus group, and interviews. In this particular study, the researcher has adopted the observational research approach. In the words of Ritchie et al. (2013), the observational research approach is an essential method of qualitative design in which the researcher is determined to observe an event and its underlying reasons and trenRegardings to this, the researcher has used an observational research meter to analyse the difference between young children and older children in terms of their interaction with adults of close family relatives of different social, linguistic, and emotional behaviour.

Data Collection and Analysis Techniques

In this study, the researcher has adopted the observational research approach to determine the difference between young and older children about their interaction with adults. The researcher has used the observational technique for collecting the data to be interpreted. Flick (2014) stated that the observational approach is the essential type of data collection method in qualitative research design in which an investigator observes consistent or ongoing behaviour. In particular, observational research is prevalent in psychology or social science. The observational approach for data collection is typically divided into participant observation and naturalistic observation. In naturalistic observation, the researcher does not intervene in the research. Naturalistic observation is particularly studying behaviours that happen naturally in natural contexts. On the other hand, participant observation is also an essential type of observation in which research intervenes in the environment. More importantly, participant observation refers to interfering in research to observe behaviour that could not be accessible by others.

In the following study, the researcher has used a naturalistic observation approach to collect data by observing subjects present in their natural environments. The rationale behind selecting a naturalistic observational approach is that it helps the researcher to observe natural behaviour without alerting subjects regarding the observation (Mehl, Robbins, and große Deters, 2012). Since, the researcher was determined to analyse the difference between emotional, linguistics, and social behaviour of young and older children while interacting with adults in close family relationships thus; the researcher preferred to use a naturalistic observational approach for collecting data through observing video-recorded observations of sic children with the age group of 2 months, 4 months, 2 years and 8 months, 3 years and 5 years old. All of the six children were observed in the period of 2 weeks in different positions of their natural environment. The researcher recorded these observations in six short videos with a total duration of 45 minutes. The researcher used a naturalistic observational approach in this study to best collect data from young children. They are unable to participate in the research and give any response to the researcher.

After collecting data through observing subjects in six short videos, the researcher was determined to analyse the collected data or observations. Regarding this, the researcher used field notes or coding of observation notes which entails description and details of observation made by observing videos of children. In addition to this, field notes are then analysed based on the thematic analysis in which observations are analysed through three different themes, including linguistic behaviour, social behaviour, and emotional behaviour of young and old children while interacting with adults in close family relationships. Vaismoradi, Turunen, and Bondas (2013) stated that thematic analysis in the observational approach refers to examining, pinpointing, and recording themes or patterns within the collected data. Themes are trends across data sets that are significant to the detail of a phenomenon and are related to particular research questions. The researcher used field notes or observational notes and made themes to analyse the difference between linguistic, emotional, and social behaviour of young children and old children while interacting with adults in close family relations.

The time was quite enough for the researcher to acquire the expected results. However, results might be improved if the videos’ time interval would be extended from 45 minutes to 1 hour. One of the researcher’s research limitations was that the children were feeling disturbed while recording videos for more than 2 continuous minutes; hence, the video was recorded in different intermittent intervals.

Findings and Summary of Key Findings

Based on field notes, three different themes have been made to analyse the difference between young and old children in terms of their emotional, linguistic, and social behaviour in interaction with adults in close family relationships as mentioned demonstrated below:

Difference between Young and Older Children in terms of Linguistic Ability

Based on field notes, it has been identified that the infant of 2 months lacks emotional, social, and linguistic ability to interact with their parents and relatives. However, children of 4 months can communicate with their parents and relatives by touching, smiling, and babbling. It has also been identified through videos that 1 year and 2 years and 8 months old children have developed their linguistic abilities or competencies to communicate with their close family members or relations. A study conducted by Hart (2013) supported this observation. It stated that children in the first and second years of their lives are likely to interact with their peers to communicate their feelings and emotions. Furthermore, Weisleder and Fernald (2013) stated that the development of linguistic ability promotes children’s early relations with their peers and family members. In this regard, children’s observation revealed that the 3 years and 5 years of children have completely developed their linguistic abilities to communicate with their close family members. However, young children are more likely to communicate with their parents than other relatives and tend to talk back immediately to parents than to other relatives. On the other hand, younger children have been more communicative, open, and opinionated with their parents. They feel shy and hesitant while communicating with relatives as compared to older children. It is stated by Siller, Hutman, and Sigman (2013) that younger children are more communicative and interactive and make better eye contact while interacting with their parents than older children and feel no distraction during communication.

On the contrary, the observations made through video recording revealed that older children are likely to respond only a few words like “Okay”, “yeah”, “no”, etc. Although older children have developed sufficient linguistic abilities, they are more responsive to other relatives than their parents and found more verbally courteous with other family relations. In this regard, Durand (2011) stated that older children are likely to keep their opinions and beliefs while interacting with parents and relatives.  It has also been determined that older children usually avoid eye contact when spoken to peers and family-like rolling eyes and look away or downward.

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Difference between Young and Older Children in terms of Emotional Expression

Based on observational notes regarding emotional expression in young and old children, it has been identified that young children tend to express their feelings and emotions like crying or laughing in front of their parents and other close family relations in comparison to older children. According to a study conducted by Chen, Lin, and Li (2012), young children are highly emotional for their parents and relations and get emotional attachment easily as compared to older children. The observational findings supported this study and indicated that younger children readily hug and greet parents than older children. This reflects that young children are more emotionally expressive as compared to older children. It has also been indicated that young children express affection to their parents physically, like touching and kissing. However, they often forget to greet relatives at relatives’ homes and require reminders from parents to greet and make eye contact with relatives.

In contrast, older children maintain neutral emotional expression while interacting with their relatives. Regarding this, Barry and Kochanska (2010) emphasised that older children are less emotionally expressive while communicating with peers and relatives than young children and are more conservative in terms of emotional expression or attachment. Moreover, the findings gathered from field notes revealed that older children do not show affection and readily hug parents and other relatives. They often withhold overt expression or feeling of emotion when they are angry, upset or amused. In addition to this, it has also been determined that older children show their emotions to the younger children and try to keep their emotions hidden from the adults. 

Difference between Young and Older Children in terms of Social Interactions

About the behaviour of social interactions, the findings of the observational notes revealed that younger children had found more arguing with children of their own age and less fighting and arguing with their parents or adults compared to older children. Also, younger children are socially incapable and often require reminders from their parents or peer for proper social behaviour like don’t interrupt others while they are talking, closing their mouth while chewing food, don’t talk while eating, and saying thank you and please. In Sameroff (2010) study, it is mentioned that younger children require support from their parents and other family relatives for their social development and interaction. The observational notes revealed that the younger children feel affection with one particular relative or parent, either mother or father for their moral and social support.

On the contrary, the study’s findings revealed that older children are less connected with their parents or relatives as after arriving at a relative’s home they are likely to sit in a corner and use their phones. Additionally, it has been indicated that older children were usually withdrawn from conversation while sitting in a living area among relatives and parents. Pea et al. (2012) stated that older children avoid social interactions with their relatives and mostly spend their time using phones and are less likely to participate in conversation with relatives. The study’s findings indicated that older children have sufficient social skills, but avoid social interactions with their relatives and showed sarcastic behaviour to the parents compared to their relatives. Overall findings of the study revealed that younger children are more emotionally expressive and linguistic abilities than older children and are likely to be socially connected with the relatives, however, requires social support from their parents in developing social skills appropriately.


On the reflective account about the data collection process, I have found that that data collection went effectively and acquired relevant and expected data from observing my nephew and niece in terms of their linguistic abilities, social interactions, and emotional expression while communicating with the adults. The observation of subjects in 45 minutes of video recording enabled me to analyse how young children are different from older children in their interaction with adults based on social interactions, linguistic abilities, and emotional expression.

At the initial research stage, I had no sufficient research skills required for the research to be conducted. However, through consistent support from my supervisor and reviewing sources regarding what type of data collection would be useful for me in conducting this research, I helped develop my research skills and acquire insight into the research process and data collection methods. My observations related to the subjects have been going well, and I have observed that it is easier for me to accurately know my subjects.  The initial two days of observations were a bit infrequent, and sometimes the children were not attentive when they became frustrated for long periods of video shooting. Overall, the process of data collection went successfully, and I gathered sufficient data and information regarding the behavioural observation of linguistic competencies, social interactions, and emotional expression. The study’s findings revealed that data was analysed accurately and found relevant results, as demonstrated in the previous studies and available literature. However, children’s restrictions made the study limited, and results might be improved if children were supportive and agreed on shooting video recordings. The hardest part of the research was approaching children to engage in social activities and emotional associations to analyse their behaviour based on linguistic abilities, social interactions, and emotional expressions. In this regard, if I get the chance to repeat this research, then I would like to use the interview as a data collection approach from parents, relatives, and children. Interviews with parents and relatives give the researcher more insight into the linguistic competencies, social communication, and emotional expressions for both young and older children. In addition to this, the interview approach would allow me to analyse young and older children’s behaviour more precisely and accurately.


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Chen, F.M., Lin, H.S. and Li, C.H., 2012. The role of emotion in parent-child relationships: Children’s emotionality, maternal meta-emotion, and children’s attachment security. Journal of Child and Family Studies21(3), pp.403-410.

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