Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 421–434 | Cite as

Relations Between Emotion Regulation, Parenting, and Psychopathology in Young Maltreated Children in Out of Home Care

  • Lara R. RobinsonEmail author
  • Amanda Sheffield Morris
  • Sherryl Scott Heller
  • Michael S. Scheeringa
  • Neil W. Boris
  • Anna T. Smyke
Original Paper


Young maltreated children, birth to three years, represent the age group with the highest rates of maltreatment in the United States (ACYF 2007). There are few studies to date that have investigated early childhood maltreatment and its effects on emotion regulatory processes and psychopathology. In response, the current investigation uses a dyadic assessment procedure to examine the relationship between parenting, emotion regulation, and symptoms of psychopathology among maltreating and non-maltreating parent–child interactions. The participants in this study were 123 children (66 maltreated and 57 nonmaltreated) from ages 1–3. Child and parent affect and child effortful control were observed during a parent–child interaction task. Symptoms of psychopathology were measured using the Child Behavior Checklist. The maltreated children exhibited more anger, more internalizing symptomatology, and less positive affect compared to non-maltreated children. Among maltreated children, emotion dysregulation was associated with internalizing symptomatology. Moreover, these data reveal parental positive affect was associated with lower child internalizing symptomatology and parental anger was associated with higher child internalizing symptomatology in the entire sample. This investigation offers evidence that emotion dysregulation subsequent to poor dyadic interactions is associated with early child maltreatment. These data suggest that maltreated children experience difficulties in emotion regulation which may be related to their higher levels of behavioral symptomatology.


Emotion regulation Maltreatment Parenting Early childhood Psychopathology 



We would like to thank the Tulane Infant Team clinicians and families for helping us better understand the needs of families and children in child protection system.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lara R. Robinson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda Sheffield Morris
    • 2
  • Sherryl Scott Heller
    • 3
  • Michael S. Scheeringa
    • 3
  • Neil W. Boris
    • 3
  • Anna T. Smyke
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and NeurologyTulane University School of MedicineNew OrleansUSA

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