Children development and the social environment : Social Development

Children development and the social environment

Healthy socio-emotional development is important to be able to function well in everyday life. PhD candidate Kouwenberg concludes that this is more difficult to achieve for deaf and hard-of-hearing youngsters than for their hearing peers. This is however not true of all deaf and hard-of-hearing young people, nor is it true for all areas of socio-emotional development. Kouwenberg: ‘The group of deaf and hard-of-hearing youngsters is very heterogeneous. For instance, they differ from each other in the degree of loss of hearing, the type of hearing aid they wear and the kind of school they go to. This may have all sorts of consequences for their socio-emotional development.’ Kouwenberg’s research shows that deaf and hard-of-hearing youngsters in special needs education are the ones who most frequently experience problems in their socio-emotional functioning. ‘This does not of course mean that this result is the consequence of special needs education. There are often many reasons why these children end up in special needs education in the first place.’


Communication between deaf and hard-of-hearing youngsters and their mostly hearing parents and environment is not always easy. As a result, these young people may have more trouble learning the how and why of emotions. They seem to have most trouble understanding how they are supposed to behave. Kouwenberg’s research shows that the friendships of deaf and hard-of-hearing youngsters are of lower quality and that they are less often able to respond with empathy to other people’s emotions than their hearing peers.

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