Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Heather A. Henderson

Second Committee Member

Kristin M. Lindahl

Third Committee Member

Ruby A. Natale


The ability to regulate emotions is thought to influence the development of positive peer relations in early childhood. By effectively regulating fear and anger in peer settings, social interactions tend to unfold in a smooth and successful manner, leading children to become socially competent over time. Fear regulation, however, is especially difficult for children who were highly reactive and frequently expressed negative affect as infants. These children, often referred to as having an inhibited temperament, are likely to become distressed by novel stimuli and show a high degree of vigilance and anxious behaviors as toddlers. After toddlerhood, research has shown that some of these children handle novel, social situations in a competent manner, whereas others continue along the pathway of inhibition and become socially reticent. Socially reticent children often engage in hovering behavior and stay on the outskirts of the peer group, which can have negative consequences for the development of positive peer relations. One factor that influences inhibited toddlers to follow one pathway versus another seems to be whether they have learned to effectively regulate emotions. The acquisition of emotion regulation strategies is a complex process, but parents usually have the most proximal influence during early childhood. Therefore, in order to learn more about promoting socially competent behavior, it is important to understand how parents are socializing emotion regulation in toddlerhood. Using data from a larger longitudinal study, the current study examined how the socialization of emotion regulation at age three influenced social engagement at age four among behaviorally inhibited toddlers. It was hypothesized that sensitive maternal socialization of emotion regulation strategies would predict higher levels of engagement in future peer social interactions.


Parenting By Temperament Interactions; Goodness Of Fit; Childhood Anxiety