The Socialization of Emotion Regulation in Preschool Classrooms




Bailey, Craig Steven

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Preschool children's emerging ability to utilize strategies to regulate negative emotion in the classroom is an important skill that contributes to concurrent and later social and academic success. Teachers as social-emotional educators may contribute to children's emerging regulation abilities via their classroom expressive modeling and via the ways that they react to children's emotions. The current study explored 39 preschool teachers' emotion socialization relative to 168 3- and 4-year-old's effectiveness in the utilization of emotion regulation strategies. Children's expression of negative emotion, their use of active distraction, information gathering, and passive waiting emotion regulation strategies, and their change in emotion expression, were coded during fall and spring administration of a disappointing gift task and a frustrating drawing task. Teachers were observed for their expressions of emotions and their reactions to children's emotions. In general, children were equally effective at using the three emotion regulation strategies to regulate their negative emotion. Children did not change from fall to spring in their effectiveness in utilizing the emotion regulation strategies, but did attempt less active distraction in the spring than they did in the fall. Frequency of using a particular strategy did not correlate with how successful children were in using that strategy. Unexpectedly, teachers' punitive and minimizing reactions predicted children's effectiveness in utilizing an active distraction emotion regulation strategy. Teachers' socialization of emotion may be with respect to classroom expectations of how and when emotions are expressed and children's increasing understanding of how to use emotions to achieve their goals. Teacher emotion socialization processes may operate differently than parental emotion socialization processes.



Developmental psychology, Early childhood education, Emotional Competence, Emotion Regulation, Emotion Socialization, Preschool, Social-emotional Learning, Teachers