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J Exp Child Psychol. 2011 Jul;109(3):336-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.02.007.

Understanding children's emotional processes and behavioral strategies in the context of marital conflict.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. kkoss@nd.edu

Abstract

Marital conflict is a distressing context in which children must regulate their emotion and behavior; however, the associations between the multidimensionality of conflict and children's regulatory processes need to be examined. The current study examined differences in children's (N = 207, mean age = 8.02 years) emotions (mad, sad, scared, and happy) and behavioral strategies to regulate conflict exposure during resolved, unresolved, escalating, and child-rearing marital conflict vignettes. Children's cortisol levels were assessed in relation to child-rearing and resolved conflict vignettes. Anger and sadness were associated with escalating and child-rearing conflicts, fearfulness was related to escalating and unresolved conflicts, and happiness was associated with resolution. Anger was associated with children's strategies to stop conflict, whereas sadness was associated with monitoring and avoidant strategies. Cortisol recovery moderated the link between fearfulness and behavioral regulation. These results highlight the importance of children's emotions and regulatory processes in understanding the impact of marital conflict.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21397249
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3065512
Free PMC Article
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