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ERIC Number: ED530409
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 25
Child Emotion Regulation and Attentional Control in Pre-Kindergarten: Associations with Parental Stress, Parenting Practices, and Parent-Child Interaction Quality
Mathis, Erin; Bierman, Karen
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
This study focuses on three aspects of parenting that have been linked theoretically and empirically with the development of child emotion regulation and attention control skills in early childhood: 1) parental stress and distress, 2) the degree of warmth and sensitivity evident in the parent-child relationship, and 3) parental support for the child's language development and learning. Existing research documents the importance of parental negative emotional reactivity and warm-sensitivity for the development of child emotion regulation skills in early childhood (0-3) (Cole, Martin, & Dennis, 2004). Less is known about the association of these aspects of parenting with child emotion regulation at home and school during the pre-kindergarten year, or their association with the preschool child's developing attentional control (Hughes, 2011). Research on the development of learning behaviors and attentional control skills suggests that parental support for learning may play a key role, particularly in terms of supporting joint attention and learning engagement (Lengua, 2002). However, rarely are these three aspects of parenting examined concurrently to evaluate their shared vs. unique contributions to child self-regulatory skill development. In addition, child emotion regulation and attention control skills are often examined in separate studies. This leaves open the question of how inter-related the regulation of attention and emotion are as children prepare to enter kindergarten, and whether the qualities of parenting and parent-child relationships that support these two areas of regulatory control are similar or different. To address these issues, the current study focuses on three aspects of parenting that may affect the development of both emotion regulation and attentional control skills. These include: 1) the parent's stress levels, 2) the quality of the parent-child relationship, and 3) the degree of cognitive challenge and language support available in parent-child interactions. In addition, the current study utilized multiple methods to assess the two domains of child skill development--attentional control and emotion regulation. Participants included two cohorts of four-year-old children (total N = 210, 55 percent girls; 20 percent Hispanic, 25 percent African-American, 55 percent European American) recruited from 26 Head Start classrooms in three counties in Pennsylvania. At the time of assessment, children were, on average 4.80 years old (SD = 0.29, range = 4.26-5.36). Children and caregivers were recruited for an intervention study evaluating a home visiting program. The current study uses pre-test data collected during the pre-kindergarten year before the intervention began. Overall, findings suggest that the three aspects of parenting studied here (parental stress, parent-child relationship quality, parent support for learning) are each associated significantly with the development of emotion regulation and attentional control during the pre-kindergarten year. Specific patterns of association varied across measure and domain. The next step in this study will be to conduct additional analyses (multiple regressions, structural equation modeling) to examine these multiple influences of parenting simultaneously. (Contains 3 tables.)
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale