Toddler parasympathetic regulation and fear: Links to maternal appraisal and behavior

Sunghye Cho, Kristin A. Buss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


There is a growing recognition that parental socialization influences interact with young children's emerging capacity for physiological regulation and shape children's developmental trajectories. Nevertheless, the transactional processes linking parental socialization and physiological regulatory processes remain not well understood, particularly for fear-prone toddlers. To address this gap in the literature, the present study investigated the biopsychosocial processes that underlie toddlers’ fear regulation by examining the relations among toddler parasympathetic regulation, maternal appraisal, and parenting behaviors. Participants included 124 mothers and their toddlers (Mage = 24.43 months), who participated in a longitudinal study of temperament and socio-emotional development. Toddlers’ parasympathetic reactivity was found to moderate the links between maternal anticipatory appraisal of child fearfulness and (a) maternal provision of physical comfort and (b) preschool-age child inhibition. Additionally, maternal comforting behaviors during the low-threat task predicted preschool-age separation distress, specifically for toddlers demonstrating a low baseline RSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-208
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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