Toddler negative emotion expression and parent-toddler verbal conversation: Evidence from daylong recordings

Margaret A. Fields-Olivieri, Pamela M. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Although early emotional and verbal development are thought to be related, emotional and verbal parent-toddler communication are often studied separately, and are frequently measured during brief, semi-structured tasks. Moreover, there is mixed, indirect evidence as to whether toddler negative emotions may elicit or disrupt parent-toddler verbal communication. To address these gaps, the present study used a wearable audio-recording and processing technology, Language Environment Analysis (LENA; Xu, Yapanel, & Gray, 2009), to sample full-day communication between twenty-five parents and their toddlers (12–23 months). We examined the extent to which toddler vocal negative emotion expressions (“cries”), relative to toddler (pre)-verbal vocalizations or adult speech, initiated, occurred within, or terminated parent-toddler conversation. We found that most (60%) toddler cries were involved in parent-toddler conversation. Toddler cries were unlikely to initiate conversations and, unexpectedly, were unlikely to terminate conversation. Conversations were most often initiated by toddler vocalizations and terminated by adult speech. Findings highlight the importance of measuring both emotional and verbal aspects of parent-toddler communication and the benefit of using sampling techniques that capture communication processes as they unfold in daily life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101711
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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