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Preadolescence and Early Emotion Socialization

Emotional socialization is when caregivers mediate contextually-appropriate ways of helping a child manage their feelings. When infants recognize their emotional distress, it can be valuable for their future emotional socialization. Caretakers' sensitivity to infants' distress helps form a secure attachment. Secure attachment is when a child feels protected by their caretaker. When the caretaker is not around, the child can manage themselves because they can count on the caretaker to return. Boldt et al. (2020) found that the security of attachment positively correlates with two year old's emotional regulation ability. This indicates the significance of attachment in emotional development.

The participants in this study varied in age from 7 months to 12 years old. The demographics taken from the sample of participants' caretakers were income, education, and race. Children's attachment and social regulation were measured in contexts of anger and frustration. The children's emotion regulation measures were all observed and coded from videos for statistical analysis.

Another interesting finding was that children ten to twelve years old who observed a negative emotional tone from their mothers positively associated with the regulation of negativity in social interactions. This indicates that children in preadolescence who noticed a negative emotional tone from their mother can identify a negative tone and appropriately self-regulate in social interactions. This finding suggests that preadolescent children can pick up on negative tones and appropriately regulate their responses, showing emotional maturity and self-awareness.

Depending on the child's attachment style with their caretaker impacts their emotional regulation skills. Suppose a child has a secure attachment style to their caretaker. In that case, they will likely learn how to regulate their emotions, which can benefit their socialization as they mature into preadolescence. Practical emotion regulation skills can help children's interactions at home, with parents and relatives, neighbors and friends, and in academic settings.


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