Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Open Access
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Cheryl L. Dickter
Kathleen E. Jenkins
A growing literature base has shown that parents influence children's emotional development, providing them with the skills necessary to regulate their emotions in adaptive ways that are related to psychosocial functioning. Few studies, however, have investigated the contribution of fathers, nor how child age and gender are affected by parental emotion socialization. The current research used parent-child conversations about emotions to understand the role of parental socialization strategies and their relations to children's emotion regulation and psychological functioning. Participants were 60 two-parent families with 68 children (38 sons) in grades 3-5. Children talked with each parent about a past anger- and sadness-provoking event. Video conversations were transcribed and processed using text-analysis software. Parents and children completed measures of children's psychosocial functioning, and children reported on parents' socialization strategies. Findings demonstrated that fathers talk more than mothers about anger, but the opposite pattern emerged for sadness. Interestingly, parents did not talk to their sons and daughters differently, but children's emotion discussion patterns varied as a function of child gender and age. More significant differences occurred for older than younger children, suggesting that these patterns may have been established in earlier development. Children's word use was associated with perceived positive socialization; the opposite was true for parent word use. Mediation analyses indicated that the more children discussed emotions, the more likely they were to successfully manage emotions and have a lower likelihood of internalizing symptoms. Implications from these results include the notion that parents should encourage children to discuss emotions but actively listen rather than talk as children articulate their feelings because it provides more opportunities for children to develop the necessary skills for successful emotion management.
Crespo, Laura M., "Parent-Child Emotion Talk in Relation to Parental Socialization and Emotion Regulation: The Role of Parent and Child Gender" (2013). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 594.
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