Project LEAP

Longitudinal associations between maternal and child emotion regulation: Examining the role of maternal emotion-related socialization behaviors

We are hoping to better understand how mothers and children think and talk about emotions, and how mothers can help their children develop the skills to manage their emotions in healthy ways.

Research Overview

Parental emotion-related socialization behaviors (ERSBs)—including parents’ reactions to their children’s emotions, emotional expressiveness, and conversations with their children about emotions (reminiscing)—shape children’s emotion regulation (ER), a multifaceted construct comprising cognitive, behavioral, and physiological processes for monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotions to accomplish one’s goals. As emotion dysregulation is a transdiagnostic risk factor for psychopathology, the elucidation of pathways by which children develop adaptive ER or emotion dysregulation is critical. Parents’ ER may affect both their engagement in ERSBs and their children’s ER, but longitudinal research delineating the specific aspects of parental ER (resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), RSA reactivity, and self-reported dysregulation and ER strategy use) that are most relevant for ERSBs (reactions to emotions, emotional expressiveness, and sensitive reminiscing) and children’s ER (resting RSA, RSA reactivity, self- and mother-reported ER, and behavior during a frustration task) is scarce. A racially and socioeconomically diverse community sample of 6- to 8-year-old children and their mothers will complete questionnaires and tasks assessing ER and ERSBs. RSA will be assessed before and during a reminiscing task and a video-based emotion induction task. Dyads will be assessed longitudinally six months and one year after their initial visit. The study is guided by three aims: (1) Evaluate the influence of maternal ERSBs on child ER over time; (2) Evaluate the influence of maternal ER on child ER over time; and (3) Evaluate which aspects of maternal ER are most relevant for maternal ERSBs over time.

Funded By

NICHD F31, SRCD Dissertation Award, Notre Dame ISLA GRSA; Notre Dame Swarm Fund

Age Group

  • Adults
  • Middle Childhood


Katherine Edler, Graduate Student

Karen Jacques, Graduate Student

Research Impact

This research will enhance theoretical accounts of the psychobiological processes of mothers that shape emotion-related socialization behaviors (ERSBs) and children’s emotion regulation (ER). In addition, this research will inform efforts to improve children’s ER and psychological functioning by identifying processes (i.e., maternal ER, ERSBs) that may be targets for translational programs.