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10-04-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 7/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 7/2017

Maternal Meta-Emotion Philosophy Moderates Effect of Maternal Symptomatology on Preschoolers Exposed to Domestic Violence

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 7/2017
Auteurs:
Emily Cohodes, Stephen Chen, Alicia Lieberman

Abstract

Exposure to domestic violence in the preschool years is consistently associated with children’s heightened risk for developing behavior problems. Maternal meta-emotion philosophy (awareness, acceptance, and coaching of children’s emotions) has been identified as an important protective factor in children’s development of internalizing and externalizing behaviors following exposure to domestic violence. However, mothers who are victims of domestic violence often experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, which may undermine their capacity to respond to their children’s negative emotions. The present study examines the protective role of maternal meta-emotion philosophy among mothers and preschool-aged children exposed to domestic violence. Participants were 95 mothers (mean age = 31.78) and their preschool-aged children (mean age = 4.11) who had witnessed domestic violence involving their mothers. Multiple regression analyses, controlling for family socioeconomic status and child exposure to interpersonal violence in the family, indicated that maternal symptomatology was positively associated with children’s internalizing problems. In addition, maternal awareness and coaching of children’s negative emotions was found to moderate relations between maternal symptomatology and children’s internalizing behaviors, and maternal awareness of children’s negative emotions was found to moderate relations between maternal symptomatology and children’s externalizing behaviors. These findings expand our understanding of maternal meta-emotion philosophy as a protective factor for preschoolers who have witnessed domestic violence.

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