Regulation of behavior and attention in Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish peer interaction

Boel De Geer, Tiia Tulviste and Luule Mizera


The aim of this study is to compare the regulatory speech used by Estonian, Finnish, and Swedish kindergarten children. 62 dyads with children of 3-6 years were videotaped during play. All regulatory speech was coded according to play situation (game play or free play), focus of regulation (behavior or attention), addressee (peer or both), sentence form, pragmatic form, and outcome (response). The results confirm earlier studies and show a more symmetrical interaction in the Swedish group (S) than in the Estonian (E) and Finnish (F) groups. E and F were found to be more controlling than S, both in behavior and in attention regulation. Further, E and F were more direct in regulation, using imperatives as orders and preventing utterances, rather than declaratives or questions, which were most frequent in the S data. Although the outcomes of peer regulation were mainly compliance in all groups, S more often negotiated regulation. E and F were more often silent following regulation.

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