Lessons learned: Young children’s use of generic-you to make meaning from negative experiences.

Learning from negative experiences is an essential challenge of childhood. How do children derive meaning from such events? For adults, one way is to move beyond the specifics of a situation by framing it as exemplifying a more general phenomenon. Here we examine whether children are able to make meaning in this way through their use of generic-you, a linguistic device in which people shift from the here and now to refer to people in general. Participants (N = 89, aged 4–10 years) listened to 2 stories depicting common conflicts and were asked to discuss what lessons the character could learn (Lessons Learned condition) and how the character felt (Relive condition). In the Lessons Learned condition, children were more likely to produce generic-you than in the Relive condition. These findings suggest that young children can make meaning from negative experiences by transcending the immediate context of an event to cast it as normative and general. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)