Maternal emotion regulation and early childhood irritability: The mediating role of child directed emotion regulation strategies

Dominique Cave-Freeman, Vincent O. Mancini, Lauren S. Wakschlag, Amy Finlay-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Parental assistance with children's emotion regulation (ER) is a form of emotion socialization behavior that has recently been operationalized with the development of the Parent Assistance with Child Emotion Regulation (PACER) questionnaire. In line with Eisenberg et al.'s heuristic model of the socialization of emotion, this study sought to test the links between mothers' ER difficulties, their use of ER strategies with their child, and child irritability – a salient dimension of child regulatory difficulties. Cross-sectional data was collected online with mothers (N = 371) of children aged one month to 5 years (M = 2.07 years, SD = 1.25) and data were analysed using hierarchical multiple regression analysis. After controlling for child age and gender, maternal distress, and household income, we found small but significant associations between maternal ER difficulties and child irritability. However, maternal use of ER strategies did not account for further variance in child irritability. These findings suggest that there are meaningful associations between maternal ER and child irritability, although maternal strategies to support child ER appear independent of their own ER capacity. Whilst not associated with child irritability, maternal support for children's ER may be associated with other indicators of mental health risk and resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111717
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume196
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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