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Parental Contributions to Preschoolers' Emotional Competence: Direct and Indirect Effects

Abstract

The present study examines the contributions of (1) parental socialization of emotion and preschoolers' emotional interaction with parents to their emotional competence, and (2) parental socialization and child emotional competence to their general social competence. Both observational and self-report techniques were used to measure emotion socialization, emotional competence, and social competence of preschoolers (average age = 49.8 months) from 60 middle-socioeconomic-status families. Data were collected in both classroom and home settings. In general, the results suggest that parental modeling of expressive styles and emotional responsiveness to child emotions are important predictors of preschoolers' emotional competence and their overall social competence. Children whose parents were more affectively positive tended to display more positive emotion with peers, whereas children whose parents were more negative appeared less socially competent in the preschool. Parents who were better coaches of their children's emotions had children who understood emotions better. Age and sex moderated several of the study's key findings. The results are consistent with earlier research indicating that parental socialization of emotion impacts the child's emotional and social functioning both at home and in the preschool.

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Correspondence to Susanne A. Denham.

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Denham, S.A., Mitchell-Copeland, J., Strandberg, K. et al. Parental Contributions to Preschoolers' Emotional Competence: Direct and Indirect Effects. Motivation and Emotion 21, 65–86 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024426431247

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Keywords

  • Indirect Effect
  • Parental Modeling
  • Social Functioning
  • Important Predictor
  • Positive Emotion