Emotion regulation skills in early childhood are essential for healthy emotional and behavioral development, yet factors related to emergent emotion regulation during the early preschool period have not been extensively explored.
In the present study (N = 90), we specifically examine parental and family-level sociocontextual correlates in relation to emotion regulation skills in three-year-olds, a crucial time when the onset of several cognitive and socioemotional abilities are intertwined. We also investigate the role of these developing emotion regulatory capacities with behavioral problems and social competence.
Children whose parents use more adaptive emotion regulation strategies (r = 0.33, p = 0.001) and who grow up in a higher income (r = 0.25, p = 0.02), less chaotic household (r = −0.30, p = 0.004) have better emergent emotion regulation. Additionally, better child emotion regulation skills are associated with more positive outcomes such as fewer behavioral problems (r = −0.46, p < 0.001) and more instrumental helping behaviors (r = 0.23, p = 0.04).
Findings indicate that identifying individual differences in emotion regulation earlier than most prior studies may be particularly important for fostering this crucial skill and overall psychological well-being in young children.