The Crucial Influence of Children's Family Background on their Socioemotional Development




Name: Wei Huang
Early Child Development
Dissertation: Young Children's Language and Socioemotional Development: The Role of Family Background


Our doctoral member Wei Huang has recently successfully completed her dissertation. In her graduation interview, she shares the path that led to her dissertation on the role of family background in children's socioemotional development.


// What drew you to your dissertation topic and what interests you most about it?

W.H.:Coming from China, where the academic achievement is always the focus, I felt that life was lacking of some non-academic elements. Socioemotional development that supports people to reach efficient interpersonal interactions is important for adult well-being. Personally, I think that socioemotional competence is a more important ingredient in life than the pure academic achievement. In my bachelor period, I also realized that family background plays a crucial role in children’s development. By organizing a summer school, I also experienced how different parenting behaviours affect children’s social interactions with others. All of these feelings and experiences drove me to investigate how family backgrounds influence children’s socioemotional development empirically.


// Can you give us a small sneak peek about the findings of your thesis?

W.H.: My thesis found that different parenting behaviours serve as mediating pathways (either as protective or risk pathways) explaining the underlying mechanisms between family backgrounds and young children’s outcomes. The association between children’s language and socioemotional development is not only unidirectional. That is, early children’s language skills have an effect on their later socioemotional development, which adds an additional pathway linking socioeconomic status, parenting behaviour and children’s socioemotional development; the reverse effect of children’s socioemotional development (behavioural difficulties) on later language skills also emerged in the current dissertation. Finally, language-related family background has been shown to influence the association between children’s majority language skills and socioemotional development.


// What did you enjoy most about your time at the Graduate School?

W.H.: I participated in the BAGSS internal conference in 2018, which was very interesting. Most of the BAGSS members travelled together to Bayreuth. We got the chance to get to know each other personally and get to know what others were doing in their dissertation project.


// What is the next step in your career?

W.H.: I am planning to apply for a third-party funding project and continue my academic career.