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Parental sensitivity is critical in the development of children’s attachment to their caregivers. Sensitivity refers to a parent's ability to understand and react synchronously with their child's emotions. Covert hostility is a form of insensitivity in which parents are subtly dismissing. The current study examines both parenting constructs during a frustration task, in relation to child behavior in an emotion interview. As part of a larger longitudinal study, 35 children (average age 6 years) and their parents waited eight minutes for children to be permitted to open a bag of prizes. Parental reactions to their children's behaviors were coded into fifteen-second intervals for sensitivity and covert hostility, based upon guidelines from the Emotional Availability Scale (Biringen, 2000). Sensitive parents responded in ways that would help their children wait effectively, while covertly hostile parents were impatient or teased their child. A separate interview involved the children discussing their experiences with six emotions. This interview was coded on 4 point scales indicating the child's level of engagement and adaptive regulation of their emotions and behavior. Preliminary results revealed a significant association between covert hostility and children’s internalizing symptoms, suggesting children whose feelings were dismissed during the frustration task tended to show distress while articulating their feelings in a separate interview. The purpose of this presentation is to see if the associations held up as significant after the coding of all participants was finalized.

Publication Date

Spring 2021


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Parental Sensitivity And Children's Emotion Regulation Development



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