November 8, 2013

Emotion Regulation, Emotion Socialization, and Child Self-regulation in Preschoolers

Check out today's summary and discussion questions, courtesy of Rosanna and Claudia!


  1. I'd like to preface my responses by admitting that I have incredibly limited expertise in the field of developmental psychology so I am excited to use this opportunity to gain more insight by hopefully spurring some discussion. Based on the discussion questions posted:

    1) The father's role in the development of the child's emotional socialization is an interesting question. As traditional gender roles become less valid I think a major factor is which parent is spending the most time with the child. I would think a stay at home dad would have a comparable impact to that of a stay at home mom. However if both parents are in the work force (or not) they may have more of a similar impact. Also at this point in development, does the sex of the child have an effect on the parent that they may emulate more? Do boys tend to learn from the dad while girls learn from the mom? Finally, in situations where both parents are still in the work force, is there any research on how a third party such as another family member that watches the child or a nanny may influence emotional development? I would think at this age a lot of what the children do is based on what has been modeled for them with greatest frequency.

    3) The authors claim that expressive language enhances explicit understanding but is less essential for implicit understanding certainly makes the most sense. My only thought is if personality factors may come into play, even this early in a child's life. I would think that even children as young as 4 can be more extroverted or introverted. Could it be possible that an introverted child may have an appropriate explicit understanding, but just less willing, or less able, to articulate it with language at that point in time? Does the paradigm they use do a good job of controlling for that?

    4) I could definitely see anger being a more nuanced emotion than sadness so it would take longer to develop an understanding of it. Could it also be possible that in general parents are less willing to express anger around young children than sadness? Perhaps younger children have not been exposed to expressions of anger as much in their development because parents are uncomfortable expressing it in front of them (even if they are angry), so it takes longer to develop an understanding of it. And in situations in which parents are angry and are trying to hide the emotion, it could present confusing signals to the child. And on a somewhat different note, children are often chastised for their outburst of anger (i.e. tantrums, screaming) but are comforted when sad, so it really may be a more confusing emotion for them to understand.

    6) My thoughts on #4 lead me to think that an intervention that models APPROPRIATE responses to anger could be beneficial in the development of this kind of understanding for children during these crucial periods of development. Rather than having parents send mixed signals by often hiding their feelings of anger and chastising children for outbursts of anger, perhaps interventions could be developed to help them better understand their feelings.

  2. For #5, I wondered if this might just be related to the way the constructs were measured. I didn't read the article closely but it seemed like maternal supportiveness was assessed in the context of a task where the child was frustrated, which I assume elicited more anger than sadness. So for moms who are supportive when kids are frustrated/angry, those kids endorse more effective strategies for anger. Perhaps if they had a task that assessed mom's supportiveness when the child was sad, that would be a better indicator of strategies endorsed for sadness. I would be interested to see how frequently supportiveness of both emotions occurs in the same family, and what the consequences might be for kiddos who are only supported when they're either angry or sad.

  3. 1) In terms of interactions for gender differences, there is some evidence for an interaction between mothers’ and fathers’ emotion socialization and children’s gender (Chaplin, Cole, & Zahn-Waxler, 2005; Garner et al., 1997). The Champline et al. (2005) study did speculate that these gender differences in emotions occurring in preschool may be subject to differential responding, especially by fathers. I am not familiar with the third party literature, but that does not mean it exists. My guess is that there would be some differences depending on how emotions our socialized at home, how influential these other individuals may be (for example maybe if parents are doing a lot of it, they have less of an impact, but if parents are not doing it at all, children who are getting it from a nanny or in a preschool might be better than children at home with parents not doing it?).

    3) That is a really interesting idea and is a reasonable hypothesis! I think it would be cool to see how introversion/extroversion relates to children’s expression and understanding of emotions. I am not familiar with any study that has done this so far. I don’t think this paradigm did a good job controlling for this. What do you think? How would you have wanted to look at this possible explaination?

    4) I think you raise some really good points here. There is newer research that is looking at the different types of negative emotions that parents express as well as how parents react to different types of children’s negative emotions (part of the emotion socialization process). There were several presentations on this at SRCD this past spring actually. But that study I mentioned earlier, Chaplin et al., also differentiated between submissive (sadness and anxiety) and disharmonious (anger and laughing) emotions, which gets at some of your ideas. I would be curious to look at the differences in frequencies though of express of anger verses sadness. And my guess is if parents are angry it might be more covert or indirect than how children typically display anger, which might add to the process you mentioned.

    6) I think you are definitely on target with your thinking here. I am familiar with an intervention that kind of does this –Strong Kids ( It is a preschool based intervention for 3-5 year old children (they have a K-2 version as well). It has several units on understanding emotions, and then what to do when you’re angry. Specifically, it starts by teaching children appropriate ways to express feelings and then teaches children how to manage anger and helpful ways of handling anger. Is this what you had in mind or do you think it would be even more beneficial if done with the parent(s) and child, rather than in a classroom