versão impressa ISSN 0185-3325
MORENO-MANSO, Juan Manuel; GARCIA-BAAMONDE SANCHEZ, Mª Elena; GUERRERO-BARONA, Eloísa e BLAZQUEZ-ALONSO, Macarena. Pragmatic competence and psychosocial adaptation in children in protective care. Salud Ment [online]. 2010, vol.33, n.4, pp. 333-340. ISSN 0185-3325.
The family, as the basic social environment, should attend to the affective and educational needs of the child. The family should be a stable and secure place for people to live together, where the child should receive care, protection, respect and social support. The family provides the environment for the child to develop and for the parents to adjust and readjust their expectations and practices concerning each child and each different circumstance within a continuity and style. The role of the family is not simply to satisfy the basic, fundamental needs, but to facilitate an interaction between the processes of physiological maturing and daily experiences in order to achieve the child's biopsychological plenitude. When the educational style is not the appropriate one, there are likely to be psychological problems in childhood and adolescence. Some experiences the child is exposed to can be the cause of maladjusted reactions. Such maladjusted response may vary according to the intensity of the experience, the meaning it has for the child, the developmental moment in which he/she finds him/herself (the degree of maturity) and the circumstances following the event. The attachment consolidates through the interaction between the child and the people around him/her. When children are exposed to aggression and rejection from their parents or when they are not given the affection and support that they need, they are more likely to develop emotional and behavioural problems. The communicative interaction established between the child and the important adults in his/her environment is essential for language developmental acquisition. Language accompanies us in almost all the activities we participate in. The absence of stimulation in the first years, so frequent in abused children, can result in delays in the acquisition and development of language. A great part of a child's activity in the first years of life is social and communicative. Although the early interaction between parents and children does not generate language understood as syntactical, phonological or semantic rules, it is essential as it provides the child with the necessary instruments to pass on to formal language. In the disorganised form of attachment, the most usual in cases of abuse, that sensitivity towards the child's needs is distorted, so the interaction with the child does not lead to a correct attribution of the intentional and communicative meaning of the child's action. The interaction in the family environment is essential as it reinforces and redirects the spontaneous use the child makes of language, progressively leading her/him to its correct use. The child learns to refer to the same things and in the same way as others do. Yet the use of language implies the consideration of the other as a thinking being, with beliefs and intentions that should be taken into account in order to be able to establish communication and the form it should take. Several papers researching this issue have stressed the effects of child abuse and neglect on language development. This research analyses pragmatic competence and psychosocial adaptation in children in protective care. Most of the studies do not provide data concerning how each individual linguistic component is affected in such children. Important deficiencies in language development are pointed out, but nothing is said in detail about where exactly such difficulties lie. The pragmatic function determines what type of language must be used in a certain context. This underlines the importance of such psycholinguistic skill. The child, beside learning the formal aspects of the language, learns to use them in a social context. The use of language implies something more than the form or the meaning. It also involves our desires, intentions, beliefs, decisions, to plan the action, etc. Our methodological proposal was carried out within the framework of the Child Care Centres in the Region of Extremadura (Spain). The sample is made up of 74 children living in four different Centres. There were 41 boys and 33 girls between the ages of 6 and 18. We feel we should point out, as strength of the research, the fact that the sample analysed represents the total number of children in residential care over the age of 6 at the time of the evaluation. Pragmatics determines what type of language should be used in a particular context. Children, apart from learning the formal aspects of the language, learn to use it in a social context. Thus there is a difference between the literal meaning of a phrase and its intention. It is necessary for the listener to recognise the speaker's intention over and above the literal meaning of what is said. To achieve this, children must be able to adapt the linguistic forms to the communicative act. We must draw attention to such important aspects as intentionality in communication and the context in which the children's language is developed. In a conversation, the children should be able to manage such skills as: taking turns to speak, expressing intention and recognising the intentions of others, attracting the other's attention, offering an appropriate amount of information, replying in an adequate way with relevant information, adopting the speaker's point of view, the capacity to modify their discourse according to the situation, etc. Our research shows that children in protective care have difficulties in knowing how people they are speaking to will react, especially when it comes to adults. They have clear limitations when using language as a resource to adequately demand attention, so that the person whose attention is required actually does so. They are also limited when directly or indirectly demanding action (the adequate formulation of a specific demand or suggestion); when making a request, especially in those situations in which a request has to be made to an important adult or figure of affection, they often have trouble maintaining continuity in discourse, jumping from one subject to another.
Palavras-chave : Child abuse; adaptation; pragmatic competence; residential care; family.