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Parenting and Emotion

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — From reading to complex math equations, children learn new things every day. Now, researchers are examining how kids learn to express their emotions. A parent’s example might be an important factor.

Sad, happy, or angry—kids deal with all types of emotions. Scientists have been looking at what affects children’s emotion regulation, or the way they process their feelings. After a series of studies, they concluded that three main factors help determine how kids deal with emotions: the way parents express their own emotions, how moms and dads respond to children’s emotions, and the general emotional climate of the family.

In a nutshell, researchers found that children have trouble regulating emotions when their parents are overly harsh, controlling, or permissive. When parents control their emotions, kids are better at regulating their emotions. Coaching kids on how to deal with anger, such as labeling their emotions, can also help them cope more effectively. And helping your kids communicate their feelings could lead to better social and emotional health down the road.

Setting clear rules and limits can also help kids express their emotions in a positive way. For example, you can say “anger is ok, but hitting is not.” The study authors say that a parent’s influence on emotion regulation starts in early childhood—possibly infancy—and continues through adulthood.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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