Letting Your Questions Guide the Way: Framing Applied Questions in Child and Adolescent Development Research
Introduction Why are emotional distress and difficulties so prominent among the symptoms of mental health problems? Is it possible that emotional difficulties precede the emergence of problems like depression and conduct disorder, such that they can be detected early as a sign of risk? If so, how early can we identify emotional difficulties that signal risk? In early childhood, what is normal (a 2-yearold’s tantrums) and what is a sign of atypical development? These are questions that arose as a result of my clinical work and which have motivated my research to this day. In this chapter, I reflect on this path, beginning with illustrations of some of the clinical work that stimulated my desire to study the development of emotion regulation. I offer these reflections as an example of how you might frame questions to pursue your own interests in the study of child and adolescent development and how you might consider the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that could provide the bases for your research aims and hypotheses. I note that I have not achieved all I had hoped, but I continue to be enthusiastic
about progress and future directions in my area of interest. Along the way, I briefly summarize the knowledge about early childhood emotion regulation and share some of the bumps along the road, lessons learned, and new questions that need to be asked and answered.