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The current study compared parents’ emotion regulation (ER) in clinical (those with a child with externalizing behavioral problems) and low-risk comparison families. Additionally, mediation models were explored with parent ER predicting child behavior problems through child ER. Participants were 60 families with children (71.7% boys; 73% Caucasian) ages 2 through 8 years (M = 4.62; SD = 1.69) from a rural population in the United States: 34 clinical families referred for parent training and 26 nonclinical families. A blocking design was used to balance the two groups on key demographic characteristics. Parents’ and children’s ER was assessed using parent-report surveys and structured behavioral observations. Analyses indicated higher rates of parental emotion dysregulation (specifically, more difficulty when upset with achieving goal-directed behaviors, p = .01, d = 0.67; controlling impulses, p = .01, d = 0.64; limited use of ER strategies, p = .02, d = 0.62; and more negative verbalizations to their child during the observed task, p < .01, d = 0.73) and child emotion dysregulation (specifically, more difficulty as reported by parents, p < .01, d = −2.42) in the clinical group. Mediational analyses indicated there were indirect paths from parental ER to children’s behavioral problems through child ER. Findings from this research suggest a need to measure and target ER in both parents and their children when working with families who are referred for treatment of child behavior problems.
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- Emotion Regulation in Families of Children with Behavior Problems and Nonclinical Comparisons
Lauren B. Quetsch
Nancy M. Wallace
Cheryl B. McNeil
Amy L. Gentzler
- Springer US