Early Childhood Teachers’ Socialization of Emotion: Contextual and Individual Contributors



Preschoolers’ emotional competence is of prime importance in their concurrent and later social and academic success. Parents are primary socializers of these abilities, but more and more early childhood educators are also important in their development. However, their means of socializing emotional competence are understudied, and could be influenced by aspects of their professional and personal lives.


The current study illustrates how components of job stress and intrapersonal attributes of ethnicity and education/experience can contribute to early childhood teachers’ reports of their socialization of children’s emotion.


Teachers completed self-reports on demographics, stress, and endorsement of socialization of emotion techniques.


Greater feelings of job resources and job control significantly related to positive emotional expressiveness, contingent reactions, and attitudes toward teaching children about emotions, as endorsed by teachers in early childhood settings; in contrast, greater feelings of job demands significantly related to teachers’ negative emotional expressiveness. Subsequent to these zero-order correlations, a well-fitting full model of these relations was found, in which teachers’ endorsements of specific emotion socialization behaviors were captured by positive and negative latent variables that are parallel to parental socialization of emotion. These coherent latent variables for positive and negative socialization of emotion were predicted by teachers’ feelings of job resources, African American ethnicity, and education/experience (via the proxy variable program type).


Discussion centers on importance of supporting teachers’ well-being, because teachers who enjoy working in early childhood education will have a positive impact of young children’s emotional development.

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The present study was funded by NICHD Grant #R01HD51514 and Institute of Education Sciences Grant award R305A110 730. We are grateful to the teachers who participated in this study, and the directors of the facilities who so cooperatively worked with us. We also thank Nila Austin, Craig Bailey, Chavaughn Brown, David Ferrier, Nicole Fettig, Grace Howarth, Samantha Karalus, Kristin Liverette, Mandana Mohtasham, Yana Segal Sirotkin, Sara Kalb Thayer, Naomi Watanabe, Erin Way, Todd Wyatt, and Kate Zinsser for their unstinting assistance in study organization and data collection.

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Correspondence to Susanne A. Denham.

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Denham, S.A., Bassett, H.H. & Miller, S.L. Early Childhood Teachers’ Socialization of Emotion: Contextual and Individual Contributors. Child Youth Care Forum 46, 805–824 (2017).

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  • Early childhood education
  • Stress
  • Socialization of emotion
  • Teacher experience
  • Ethnicity