The role of mothers’ global and parenting-specific emotionality in relation to parenting and toddlers’ emotion dysregulation

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

Abstract: The quality of caregiving that infants receive is critical for predicting adaptive social and emotional outcomes. Research has examined the degree to which characteristics of the mother contribute to the caregiving environment. The goals of this study were to a) examine the direct effects of maternal global negative and positive emotionality on parenting-specific emotions, b) test the degree to which parenting-specific emotionality mediates the association between maternal global negativity and positive emotionality and maternal sensitivity to distress, c) examine the degree to which maternal sensitivity mediated the associations between maternal global and parenting-specific emotionality and toddlers’ emotion dysregulation, and d) determine the degree to which infant temperament moderated the association between maternal sensitivity to distress and toddlers’ emotion dysregulation. Drawing from a sample of 259 first time mothers, maternal global emotionality was assessed prenatally during the third trimester via maternal self-report, and maternal mother-oriented and infant-oriented emotions were assessed via maternal self-report when infants were 6-months old. At 14-months, mothers and infants participated in a series of distress eliciting tasks and maternal sensitivity was observationally coded, and mothers reported on supportive and non-supportive emotion socialization practices. At 26-months, mothers and toddlers participated in another laboratory visit and toddlers’ behavior was observationally coded from several tasks to assess toddlers’ compliance, venting behaviors, and percent time toddlers spent displaying negative affect, and mothers reported on infants’ temperament and toddlers’ behavioral problems. Results indicated that maternal global negativity and mother-oriented emotions were associated with higher emotion dysregulation, and contrary to hypotheses, this was not mediated by maternal sensitivity to distress. Additionally, observed infant distress at 14-months was associated with lower maternal sensitivity to distress, but this effect was stronger for mothers who were higher in infant-oriented emotions compared to mothers lower in infant-oriented emotions. Taken together, these findings provide insight to the differential role of positive/infant-oriented emotions and negative/mother-oriented emotions in predicting parenting and emotion dysregulation and can be used to inform parenting intervention and education programs. Strengths, limitations, and future directions for research are discussed

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Caregiving, Emotion dysregulation, Infant negative emotionality, Maternal emotionality, Maternal sensitivity
Mother and child
Emotions in children
Emotional contagion

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