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Early Educ Dev. 2013 Jan 1;24(7):979-999.

Relations among Teachers' Emotion Socialization Beliefs and Practices, and Preschoolers' Emotional Competence.

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  • 1Carol A. S. Morris, Department of Psychology, George Mason University; Susanne A. Denham, Department of Psychology, George Mason University; Hideko H. Bassett, Department of Psychology, George Mason University; Timothy W. Curby, Department of Psychology, George Mason University.



Utilizing a three-part model of emotion socialization that includes Modeling, Contingent Responding, and Teaching, this study examined the associations between 44 teachers' self-reported and observed emotion socialization practices and 326 preschoolers' emotion knowledge and observed emotional behavior. Multi-level analyses revealed that the majority of the variance in the children's emotion knowledge scores and observed emotional behavior was predicted by factors within, rather than between, classrooms. Teachers' use of all three emotion socialization techniques did contribute to the prediction of the children's scores; however, the nature of these associations differed by children's age and gender.


The development of children's emotional competence is a complex, multi-faceted process in which many interaction partners play a role; early childhood teachers act as emotion socialization agents for the children in their care by modeling emotions, responding either supportively or punitively to children's expressions of emotions, and engaging in direct instruction regarding emotional experience. This research may provide a basis for potential future interventions designed to assist teachers in developing their own emotion socialization skills so that they can be more effective emotion socialization agents for the children in their care.

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