Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Menna, Rosanne

Keywords

Psychology, Emotion regulation, Emotion socialization, Interactional synchrony, Parentchildrelationship, Preschool age, Social skills

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The present study examined parent-child interactional synchrony and parents' socialization of emotion as predictors of young children's social and emotional functioning. Participants were 136 children aged 3 to 6 years (80 males, 56 females) and their mothers. Mothers' reports of their typical reactions to their children's negative emotional expressions and of their children's emotion regulation and social skills were attained. Mother-child dyads engaged in a free play task and a structured teaching task that were coded for interactional synchrony. Results revealed that mothers' distress reactions to children's negative emotions predicted emotion regulation difficulties in children, while mothers' minimizing reactions predicted weaker prosocial skills (i.e., cooperation, assertion, responsibility, and self-control) in children. Mothers' expressive encouragement reactions predicted children's cooperation and assertion skills. Children with fewer emotion regulation difficulties exhibited greater cooperation, assertion, responsibility, and self-control skills. Children's emotion regulation skills mediated the link between mothers' personal distress reactions to children's negative emotions and children's cooperation, assertion, responsibility, and self-control skills. Higher levels of synchrony in the motherchild interaction directly predicted greater assertion skills in children. Three indirect effect models clarified links between interactional synchrony and child outcomes. Lower levels of interactional synchrony during the free play task were associated with mothers' tendency to react to their children's negative emotions with personal distress, and in turn, these children exhibited greater emotion regulation difficulties. Lower levels of interactional synchrony during the free play and structured block tasks were both associated with mothers' tendency to use minimizing reactions to their children's negative emotions, and in turn, these children exhibited fewer social skills. Moderation models examining the link between maternal emotion socialization behavior, the quality of the mother-child relationship, and children emotion regulation and social skills were not supported. The findings help clarify the role of parent-child interactions in children's development of emotional and social competence, providing useful information for the development of intervention and prevention programs

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