Date of Award

2019

Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kimberley Babb

Keywords

Emotion, Emotional Competence, Emotion Coaching, Emotion Socialization, Personality

Rights

info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

Much of what children know about emotions is learned from their parents, so it is important to examine parental beliefs, attitudes, and practices that contribute to emotion socialization. Little is known about how parents’ own emotional competence skills and personality contribute to these beliefs, attitudes, and practices. The purpose of this study was to examine the relations among parent emotional competence (i.e., positive expression, negative expression, empathy, reappraisal, and mature defense mechanisms), parent personality (i.e., openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism), emotion-related parenting style (i.e., emotion coaching) and practices (i.e., supportive reactions to children’s negative emotions), and parent-reported children’s emotion regulation and social competence (i.e., prosocial orientation), comparing mothers and fathers. One-hundred and sixty-three mothers and 29 fathers of children ages 4 to 12 were recruited to complete an online survey, consisting of self-report measures of the study variables. Mothers’ data were analyzed using structural equation modeling, whereas fathers’ data were analyzed using hierarchical regression. For mothers, partial support was found for the study hypotheses related to the impact of maternal emotional competence on mothers’ emotion-related parenting styles and practices, with higher levels of both empathy and positive expression as predictors of higher levels of emotion coaching. Higher levels of positive expression and lower levels of negative expression also predicted higher levels of supportive reactions. When examining indirect effects, only higher levels of both empathy and positive expression were indirectly related to higher levels of supportive reactions through higher levels of emotion coaching. No significant relations for mature defense mechanisms and reappraisal were found. Additionally, partial support for the study hypotheses related to the impact of mothers’ emotion-related parenting style and children’s outcomes was found. Higher levels of emotion coaching predicted higher levels of supportive reactions to children’s negative emotions, children’s emotion regulation skills, and children’s prosocial orientation. Contrary to the study hypotheses, higher levels of positive expression and lower levels of negative expression directly predicted higher levels of child emotion regulation skills. Although no model was retained for personality, correlations revealed a pattern of relations that show partial support for the study hypotheses, including positive correlations between emotion coaching and each openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Analysis of fathers’ data was exploratory because of the small sample size and low power, but revealed similarities to the mothers’ results, including higher levels of positive expression and empathy predicting higher levels of emotion coaching, higher levels of emotion coaching predicting higher levels of supportive reactions and children’s emotion regulation skills, higher levels of negative expression predicting lower levels of supportive reactions, and higher levels of positive expression predicting higher levels of child emotion regulation skills. In contrast to the mothers’ results, higher levels of negative expression and reappraisal predicted better child emotion regulation skills and higher levels of empathy and positive expression were indirectly related to higher levels of child emotion regulation through higher levels of emotion coaching. For personality, positive correlations between emotion coaching and both agreeableness and conscientiousness were found. Results have implications for the importance of expression variables on the overall family emotional climate, emotion socialization, and children’s emotional and social skills.

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