How Children Sign Letters and Cards: A Look into How Children Discriminate Between Expressing Emotion Towards Others
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Children learn from a young age that sending cards to others for birthdays, thank you notes, or the holidays, serves as a form of communication. They also absorb the fact that what they write inside the cards, can often communicate their emotions and feelings about the person to whom they are writing. The present study examined how 21 children, ranging from ages 5 years and 2 months to 10 years and 7 months, sign birthday cards to a variety of people with distinct relationships in their lives. A private interview was conducted with each child in order to further understand why children chose to end cards differently depending on the targeted person and what characteristics helped them distinguish between choosing the "appropriate" ending. The largest factors that contributed towards the expression of emotion were age and gender. A general decrease in the expression of affection was found among older children. The gender of the child was also found to have an impact. Females often expressed love more freely towards others and were comfortable expressing affection to a wider range of individuals. They also seemed to have fewer restrictions concerning how their affection towards others would be received. The age and gender differences found in this study are important in order to further an understanding of how children learn to discriminate between the expressions of emotion, especially the emotion of affection.
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