A Longitudinal Examination of Maternal Emotions in Relation to Young Children's Developing Self-Regulation

Pamela M. Cole, Emily N. LeDonne, Patricia Z. Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective. This study examines how young children's emotion and behavior relate to maternal emotions concurrently and as a function of children's developmental changes in self-regulation. Design. Mothers and their children (N = 120) participated in an 8-min waiting task at children's ages 18, 24, 36, and 48 months. Children's emotion expressions, misbehavior, and regulatory efforts were observed, and mothers rated their own emotions during the wait. Results. Children's emotion and behavior and maternal emotions related in expected directions at most time points. Over time, maternal positive emotion increased more if children were less angry, more content, or more engaged in regulatory efforts relative to age mates. Maternal negative emotion decreased more if children engaged more in regulatory efforts but less if children were angrier relative to age mates. Conclusions. Individual differences in children's emotions may influence parental emotions. Over time, only the intra-individual decline in children's anger, not the decrease in their misbehavior or the increase in their regulatory efforts, predicted improvements in maternal emotions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-132
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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