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Temperament, Emotion Regulation, and Emotion-Related Parenting: Maternal Emotion Socialization during Early Childhood

Abstract

The heuristic model of emotion socialization (Eisenberg et al., 1998; Eisenberg, 2020) identifies predictors of emotion-related parenting practices, such as children’s temperament, parent personality and emotion-related beliefs, and cultural factors. Though relations between the temperaments of mothers and their children have been studied, little is known about the interaction of child and parent temperaments and how this relates to children’s emotional development (Lewis, 2014). We examined how patterns of mother-child temperament were related to mothers’ emotion-related socialization (e.g., coaching, rejecting). We hypothesized that the relation between these mother-child temperament patterns and children’s emotion regulation would be mediated by maternal emotion-related socialization. Participants included an ethnically diverse sample of mothers (N = 168) living with young children (4-7 years old; 86 boys, 82 girls). Through a cluster analysis, dyadic mother-child temperament patterns were identified. Maternal emotion coaching and emotion rejecting were assessed using a self-report questionnaire of emotion-related socialization. Although maternal emotion coaching was not a significant mediator in models predicting emotion regulation, there was an indirect effect of temperament pattern on children’s emotion regulation through mothers’ emotion rejecting. Mother-child temperament patterns low in negative affectivity predicted lower emotion rejecting, and lower emotion rejecting predicted greater emotion regulation in children, even after accounting for covariates. In addition, mother-child temperament patterns had a direct effect on children’s emotion regulation. This study highlights associations between maternal emotion-related socialization, mother-child temperament patterns, and children’s emotion regulation.

Highlights

  • Mother-child temperament patterns were interactional and data-driven, derived from a cluster analysis.

  • When mother-child dyads were higher in negative affectivity, mothers were more likely to report rejecting their children’s emotions. Lower emotion rejecting in mothers predicted greater emotion regulation in children.

  • By taking a person-centered approach that examines dyadic temperament patterns, this paper adds to the growing literature on the importance of looking at the whole person in context and in relation to interaction with others.

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Acknowledgements

Support for this study was provided by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship awarded to S.A.S. The authors wish to thank the research assistants who assisted in data collection and coding, as well as the families who participated in this study.

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Correspondence to Shawna A. Scott.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Scott, S.A., Hakim-Larson, J. Temperament, Emotion Regulation, and Emotion-Related Parenting: Maternal Emotion Socialization during Early Childhood. J Child Fam Stud 30, 2353–2366 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02016-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02016-z

Keywords

  • Emotion socialization
  • Emotion-related parenting
  • Temperament
  • Emotion regulation
  • Preschoolers