Beyond the parent-child dyad: Testing family systems influences on children's emotion regulation

Gregory M Fosco, Marquette University


Emotion regulation is a central process across the lifespan. It shapes our everyday experiences, modulating emotions such as happiness, joy, anger, sadness, and fear, and holds important clinical implications for psychological adjustment, social functioning, and academic achievement. This importance makes it valuable to understand the social processes that mold one's patterns of emotion regulation. For children, the primary context of emotional development is the family. Past research has highlighted the role of parenting influences on emotion regulation; however, less is known about the role broader family factors play. This study presents a family systems model of emotion regulation, including mother-child, father-child, interparental, and family-wide processes to better understand the context in which it develops. This study presents data from 150 families of children aged 8-12 and draws from mother, father, child, and observed measures of family, parent, and child functioning. Analyses were conducted comparing three theoretical models: a unique predictors model, an interparental indirect effects model, and a family as context for parenting model. Comparisons of these models provided support for the interparental indirect effects model as the best fit with the data. This model finds that interparental functioning is indirectly associated with children's emotion regulation through mother-child, father-child, and family-wide processes. This model also found that maternal warmth and emotionally supportive parenting, higher levels of family positive emotional climate, and lower levels of family negative emotional climate were associated with the most adaptive emotion regulation functioning.

Recommended Citation

Fosco, Gregory M, "Beyond the parent-child dyad: Testing family systems influences on children's emotion regulation" (2008). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3326757.