Emotion Coaching: Moving from Behaviourism to Nurture in a Nursery Class

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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This dissertation focuses on the process of moving from a Behaviourist approach to managing young children’s behaviour, to an attachment-led approach supporting nursery-aged children to regulate their own behaviours through emotion-coaching experiences. The study supports the development of new understandings about emotion-coaching as a strategy for supporting young children’s meta-emotion, social interactions and attachments within a Scottish nursery context. Such a study is important in order to respond to new understandings about attachment and brain development. The research approach adopted in this dissertation, included a comprehensive review of relevant literature on Attachment Theory and emotioncoaching, linked with an ongoing Action Research framework within the focus nursery class. Adopting a child-centred approach, the study collected the perspectives of preschool children experiencing emotion-coaching in their nursery environment, utilising the participatory tools of The Mosaic Approach. The findings from this research offer evidence that the experience of emotion-coaching provided an increased repertoire of emotional language in young children; supported a developing understanding of the emotions behind behaviours; enabled children to choose appropriate strategies to respond to strong emotions; and enhanced young children’s ability to self-regulate their emotions and subsequent behaviours. The main conclusions drawn from this study are that emotion-coaching provides early years educators with a practical application of an attachment-led pedagogy; that emotion-coaching supports young children’s developing emotional intelligence and subsequent social skills; and that young children can learn to regulate their own and others’ emotions when supported to develop their meta-emotion through emotion-coaching. This dissertation recommends that educators, rather than ‘disciplining’ a young child’s behaviour patterns through sanction/reward approaches, should focus instead on supporting children’s increasingly complex meta-emotion to develop emotional self-awareness, self-regulation of behaviour and increasingly empathic co-regulatory responses.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Strathclyde Institute Of Education
  • Karagiannidou, Eleni, Supervisor
Award date8 Nov 2018
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Attachment Theory
  • behaviourist approaches
  • The Mosaic Approach
  • children
  • self-regulation
  • child behaviour


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