Toddler’s Emotional Regulation

Since we discussed emotion regulation this past week in class, I thought this article would be appropriate to summarize. The study was conducted using toddlers and their pre-school aged siblings in an altered strange situation scenario. The researchers were attempting to measure self-soothing habits in toddlers who were reported from coming from positive homes versus toddlers from sad or negative homes. Fifty-five toddlers were placed in three different situations and their emotion regulation and self-soothing behaviors were measured. The three situations were as follows: 1) toddler alone, 2) toddler- toddler sibling and finally 3) toddler- sibling – unresponsive stranger scenario.
The results showed that “ Infants showed less distress in toddler-sibling-stranger scenario than toddler- sibling” (Garner, 1995). However, this turned out to be short lived once the stranger present was unresponsive to the toddler’s calls for soothing. The study also mentioned that siblings would often feed the toddlers distress by teasing or ignoring them. Similarly, it was reported that toddlers would often change very quickly from positive to negative emotions possibly indicative of poor emotional regulation.
The second finding of the study was the difference in toddlers coming from “positive” or “negative” homes. Toddlers coming from positive or happy homes showed appropriate self-soothing methods only when left alone and handled all others scenarios well. Alternatively, toddlers who came from negative or sad homes showed excessive self-soothing throughout all three scenarios. This is significant because it shows that toddlers coming from cold or distant parenting styles having “much more difficulty regulating and modulating their negative emotional behavior” (Garner 1995) than those coming from warm sensitive homes.
In conclusion, this article shows the “importance of social context and family expressiveness in the development of toddlers emotion regulation” (Garner, 1995). As we discussed in class, parents much be available to help soothe and coach their children in emotion regulation or not only will the child be able to regulate at a young age, but they may continue to have difficulties into adulthood.

By Madelyn King

Garner P.W., 1995. Toddler’s Emotion Regulation Behavior: The Roles of Social Context and Family Expressiveness. The Journal of Genetic Psychology 156(4), 417-430


~ by littlegoose08 on October 10, 2009.

One Response to “Toddler’s Emotional Regulation”

  1. This is a great study in that it seems to encompass a concise and directive focus while addressing many potential reasoning for overall general attachment styles.

    I wonder how disabilities truly affect the individuals/toddler’s upbringing.

    i.e. If positive, responsive and reasonably sensitive, kangaroo care is accomplished, learning is attained, exploration is enabled and executed, cognitive awareness is conscious, and etc, how could accurately diagnosed disability affect the ‘supposed to be more positive’ attachment style in later life?

    e.g. It would seem to have less affect if adolescent had a high functioning learning disability rather than that of a physical disability. Although, I wonder how much such LD’s could still affect the ability to pursue that positive environment and thus, achieve a secure attachment style in result.

    Zach Rusk

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