Mothers' responses to children's negative emotions and child emotion regulation: The moderating role of vagal suppression

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Susan D. Calkins, Professor (Creator)
Esther M. Leerkes, Professor (Creator)
Stuart Marcovitch, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology (Creator)
Nicole Elizabeth Brown Perry (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: The current study examined the moderating effect of children's cardiac vagal suppression on the association between maternal socialization of negative emotions (supportive and nonsupportive responses) and children's emotion regulation behaviors. One hundred and ninety-seven 4-year-olds and their mothers participated. Mothers reported on their reactions to children's negative emotions and children's regulatory behaviors. Observed distraction, an adaptive self-regulatory strategy, and vagal suppression were assessed during a laboratory task designed to elicit frustration. Results indicated that children's vagal suppression moderated the association between mothers' nonsupportive emotion socialization and children's emotion regulation behaviors such that nonsupportive reactions to negative emotions predicted lower observed distraction and lower reported emotion regulation behaviors when children displayed lower levels of vagal suppression. No interaction was found between supportive maternal emotion socialization and vagal suppression for children's emotion regulation behaviors. Results suggest physiological regulation may serve as a buffer against nonsupportive emotion socialization.

Additional Information

Developmental Psychobiology, 54, 503-51
Language: English
Date: 2011
vagal suppression, vagal tone, emotion regulation, physiological regulation, emotion socialization, negative emotions, preschool, RSA

Email this document to