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Emotion Socialization in the Home


This study's aim was to explore naturalistic observations of children's emotion expression when at home with their parents. Parents' socialization of children's emotion expression through their responses to negative emotion and children's subsequent emotional reactions also were explored. Thirty-one families with a school-aged target child (ages 8-12) were filmed on two days, and video footage (15,071 30-second clips) in which the target child and parent were on screen was coded for children's emotion expression and parents' responses to negative emotions. Positive emotion and negative emotion on average were expressed in 32% and 11% of the clips respectively. Parent verbal and non-verbal responses included emotion coaching (EC) responses, behaviors that encourage emotion, and emotion dismissing (ED) responses, behaviors that discourage emotion expression. ED behaviors were among the most common responses. Child and parent sex differences were examined. For example, parents were more likely to support daughters' but dismiss sons' negative emotions. Associations between children's emotions and parents' responses also were tested. Contrary to expectations, children were more likely to express negative emotion following a parent's verbal ED than an EC response.

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