Maternal Emotion Coaching and Depressive Symptoms and Children's Problem Behaviors
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Series/Report no.:2014 Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. 19th
The emotion socialization strategies that mothers use with their children impact children’s socioemotional competence and adjustment outcomes, such as internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Maternal emotion socialization strategies may be particularly important for children of depressed mothers, as depressed mothers often show deficits in parenting and their children tend to exhibit elevated behavior problems. However, studies on depressed mothers’ emotion socialization strategies are scarce. This study focused on maternal emotion coaching strategies, which involves mothers’ awareness, affirmation, and facilitation of problem-solving with children’s negative emotions. This study examined how maternal emotion coaching and depressive symptoms were associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing problems, and whether mothers’ emotion coaching served as a protective factor for children of depressed mothers. Participants were 74 mother-child dyads; 43 of the mothers had depressive symptoms above the clinical cutoff for the Centers for Epidemiological Studies Depressive Scale. Children’s internalizing and externalizing problems were assessed using mothers’ report on the Child Behavioral Checklist. In laboratory visits, mothers facilitated discussion with their children about past events that made their children happy, angry, scared, and sad; mothers’ emotion coaching strategies were coded based on mothers’ awareness and acceptance of children’s emotion, as well as their facilitation of children’s elaboration and problem-solving strategies. Regression analyses were conducted separately for internalizing and externalizing problems. No direct associations were found between emotion coaching and child problem behaviors; however, maternal emotion coaching interacted with maternal depression in predicting child problem behaviors. Specifically, depressed mothers who used more emotion coaching had children who displayed lower levels of internalizing (β=-.27, p=.05) and externalizing behaviors (β=-.30, p=.01). The results of this study broaden our understanding about the effects of mothers’ emotion coaching on their children’s adjustment outcomes, and how mothers’ use of emotion coaching serves as a protective factor for the children of depressed mothers.
Social and Behavioral Sciences: 3rd Place (The Ohio State University Denman Undergraduate Research Forum)
Academic Major: Human Development and Family Science
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