Identify effective emotion regulation behaviors in infancy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jin Qu (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Esther Leerkes

Abstract: The goal of this study was to identify the subset of emotion regulation behaviors that were effective in both short-term (associated with a reduction in observed negative affect within a 2-s window at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years of age), and long-term (associated with fewer externalizing and internalizing behavior at 1 year, 2 years and 4.5 years of age) as main effects and/or by buffering the link between temperamental reactivity and later behavior problems). Infants and their mothers participated in a series of observational tasks and mothers completed questionnaires when infants were 6 months old, 1 year and 2 years old and the sample size was 245. The results from the sequential analyses illustrated that looking away behavior at 6 months during the fear task was reliably associated with reductions in negative affect. In addition, looking at mom behavior and withdrawing to mom behavior at 1 year were associated with reduction in negative affect in both the anger and fear context. Overall, emotion regulation behaviors that involved the mother seemed to be more effective in alleviating infant distress, compared to similar emotion regulation behaviors that did not involve the mother. In terms of long-term effectiveness, early looking away and looking at mom behavior were associated with fewer behavior problems at 2 years. Looking at mom behavior at 6 months also moderated the association between infant temperamental anger at 6 months and externalizing behavior at 2 years. Infants who had higher reported temperamental anger had lower externalizing behavior at 2 years, when they engaged in higher looking at mom behavior at 6 months. In addition, self-soothing and self-soothing with mom behavior were associated with fewer behavior problems in the anger and fear context respectively. In sum, the current study provided evidence as to short-term and long-term effectiveness of gaze behaviors and self-soothing behaviors. These findings have implications for interventions such that mental health professionals may need to work closely with infants’ caregivers to cultivate their awareness and ability to support infant emotion regulation skills during daily interactions, which are important in preventing future behavior problems in young children.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Effectiveness, Emotion regulation, Externalizing behavior, Infant, Internalizing behavior, Sequential analysis
Emotions in children
Mother and child $x Psychological aspects
Child psychology

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