Parenting shapes the development of emotion regulation skills in early childhood, laying a key foundation for social-emotional adjustment. Unfortunately, high adversity exposure may disrupt parental emotion socialization practices and children's regulatory development. The current study used variable- and person-centered approaches to evaluate links among parental emotion expressiveness, children's observed emotion regulation, and teacher-reported adjustment among 214 4- to 6-year-old children experiencing homelessness, an indicator of high cumulative risk and acute adversity. Structured parent-child interaction tasks were recorded on site in emergency shelters over the summer and micro-socially coded for parent and child expressions of anger, positive affect, and internalizing distress. We anticipated that parental modeling of predominantly negative emotion expression would be associated with more child dysregulation during parent-child interaction and worse adjustment at school, as reported by teachers the following school year. Preliminary analyses indicated that children's observed difficulty downregulating anger was associated robustly with teacher-reported social-behavioral problems. Latent profile analysis was used to identify three patterns of parental emotion expression characterized by above-average expression of positive affect, internalizing distress, and anger. Parents’ likelihood of membership in the elevated anger profile significantly predicted children's observed difficulty down-regulating anger and higher social-behavioral problems at school. In addition to ongoing efforts to reduce poverty-related risk, supporting adaptive anger regulation in parents and young children may be important for enhancing resilience among families experiencing homelessness and similar conditions of high cumulative risk.
Labella, M., Distefano, R., Merrick, J., Ramakrishnan, J., Thibodeau, E., & Masten, A. (2023). Parental affect profiles predict child emotion regulation and classroom adjustment in families experiencing homelessness. Social Development https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12667