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Emotion Regulation in Early Childhood: A Building Block to Success Kristin Rezzetano, M.S.Ed., Stephanie Marshall, M.S.Ed., & Kara McGoey, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Emotion Regulation in Early Childhood: A Building Block to Success Kristin Rezzetano, M.S.Ed., Stephanie Marshall, M.S.Ed., & Kara McGoey, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Emotion Regulation in Early Childhood: A Building Block to Success Kristin Rezzetano, M.S.Ed., Stephanie Marshall, M.S.Ed., & Kara McGoey, Ph.D.

2 Background Self Regulation Essential for adaptive and independent functioning Emotion regulation Includes emotional lability, flexibility, and contextual response Alink, Cicchetti, Kim, & Rogosch, 2009; Kopp, 1989; Thompson & Goodvin, 2007

3 Development of Emotion Regulation Infancy <6m. – dependent on caregivers Temperament Research supports increased negativity/proneness to distress in certain infants Rudimentary ER abilities begin to develop Turning head away, sucking, object play Social referencing/theory of mind develop

4 Development of Emotion Regulation Toddlerhood –Locomotion allows for moving away, toward objects as emotion regulation –Language develops – increased emotional understanding and ability to express emotions Emotions are in reference to something-agent of change Understand advantages/disadvantages of emotional displays

5 Development of Emotion Regulation Preschool –Must learn to regulate emotions given the demands of the situation Home vs. Preschool –Language continues to develop – (e.g., use your words) –Temper tantrums may persist in moments of extreme emotion –Peer relationships

6 Development of Emotion Regulation Childhood –More sophisticated cognitive components – may re-evaluate situation or deny negative elements rather than removing themselves –Social/cultural/gender norms influence ER Adolescence –Increased development of prefrontal cortex Integration of emotion, cognition, & behavior

7 Emotion Regulation & Social Competence Social Competence Success in interacting socially with others (Fabes, Gaertner, & Popp, 2006) –Associated with school readiness, academic achievement, fewer behavioral problems, higher ER –Negative emotional expression, lack of emotion regulation, deficient emotional expression, insecure attachment all related to difficulties with SC (Denham, 2002)

8 Emotion Regulation & Academic Functioning Relationship between emotion regulation, emotion knowledge/language, social competence, and academic skills and motivation (Eisenberg, Sadovsky, & Spinrad, 2005) Emotional lability predicted by socially negative behavior in the classroom, related to maladaptive learning; early socially negative behavior related to maladaptive learning later in school year (Fantuzzo, Bulotsky-Shearer, Fusco, & McWayne, 2005)

9 Assessment Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC; Shields & Cicchetti, 1997) –Two dimensions: Emotion Regulation & Lability/Negativity –24-items, 4-point Likert scale –Teachers can complete –Children ages 6 to 12

10 Emotion Regulation Checklist – Sample Items Emotion Regulation dimension: empathy, self-awareness of emotion, appropriateness of emotional displays –Is empathic toward others, Can say when she/he is feeling sad, angry or mad, fearful or afraid, Exhibits wide mood swings (Fantuzzo et al., 2005, p. 263)

11 Assessment Emotion Regulation Q- Sort (Shields & Cicchetti, 1997) –Uses the California Child Q-Set (CCQ; Block & Block, 1980) –10 items reflecting positive and negative emotion regulation strategies

12 Emotion Regulation Q-Sort: Sample Items Positive: Can recover from stress Is empathic Negative: Goes to pieces under stress Is easily irritated

13 Assessment Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ: Gross & John, 2003) –Measures cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression of emotions –10 items (6 cognitive, 4 expressive) on 7-point Likert scale

14 ERQ: Sample Items Reappraisal: –When I want to feel less negative emotion, I change the way Im thinking about the situation – I control my emotions by changing the way I think about the situation Im in Suppression: –I keep my emotions to myself –When I am feeling positive emotions, I am careful not to express them

15 Assessment Preschool Self-Regulation Assessment (PSRA; Smith- Donald, Raver, Hayes, & Richardson, 2007) –Portable assessment of preschoolers regulatory skills in behavioral, attentional, and emotional domains –Scores based on direct assessment and behavioral report

16 PRSA Sample items –Direct Tasks Balance Beam, Pencil Tap, Tower, Toy Sorting, Toy Wrap, Snack Delay, Tongue Task –Examiner Report Intensity and frequency of anger/irritability, sadness, positive emotions 3-point Likert scale rating

17 PRSA Toolkit available online at c/csrp/psra c/csrp/psra –Includes script, assessor report, score sheet, code sheet, training materials –English and Spanish versions available –Certification opportunities

18 Assessment: Other Methods Direct Assessment/Observation –Disappointment task Provide child with undesirable toy as reward for completing task Observe response: Is child actively regulating emotion? Passively managing emotion? Acting disruptively? See Feng, Shaw, Kovacs, Lane, ORourke, & Alarcon (2008)

19 Intervention Call for use of interventions to address emotion regulation in the school environment to promote behavioral and academic success (Raver, Garner, & Smith-Donald, 2007) –Promotion of self-regulation for all children –Practice emotion regulation in multiple contexts –Differentiating externalizing/aggressive behavior from dysregulated behavior –Emotion regulation can be learned through play (Bodrova & Leong, 2005)

20 Intervention The Incredible Years (TIY; Webster-Stratton, 2008) –Intervention program designed for children ages 0-12 –Parent, Teacher, and Child training programs –BASIC Preschool/Early Childhood program developed for children ages 3-6 Addresses social, emotional, and school readiness skills

21 The Incredible Years Parenting Program (BASIC) –Positive parenting: setting limits, addressing misbehavior, providing praise, encouraging positive play skills Dina Dinosaur Program –Child training: social problem solving, managing frustration, perspective taking, behavior, empathy Teacher Classroom Management Program –Behavior management

22 The Incredible Years BASIC Early Childhood Parent Program Program 1 –Strengthening Childrens Social Skills, Emotion Regulation, and School Readiness Skills Program 2 –Using Praise and Incentives to Encourage Cooperative Behavior Program 3 –Positive Discipline – Rules, Routines and Effective Limit Setting Program 4 –Positive Discipline – Handling Misbehavior

23 The Incredible Years Dina Dinosaur Treatment Program Program 1 –How to Do Your Best in School Program 2 –Understanding and Detecting Feelings Identifying self and others feelings, changing negative emotions to positive Program 3 –Detective Wally Teaches Problem-Solving Steps 7-step problem-solving and anger management Program 4 –Molly Manners Teaches How to Be Friendly

24 The Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Program Anger Management/Emotion Regulation Providing stability/consistency, accepting emotions and emotional expressions, using feeling language, discouraging physical/verbal aggression to express emotions, teaching self- calming techniques

25 Second Step, 1997 A research based program created by the Committee for Children School-based social skills curriculum that includes teacher friendly curricula, training for educators, and parent education components. Intended for children from preschool through grade nine * Committee for Children

26 Second Step Preschool/Kindergarten Curriculum Thirty-six lessons divided into three units –Empathy Training –Impulse Control –Anger management Lessons include songs, role plays, and puppet activities Each lesson is minutes long.

27 Second Step Barriers to implementation Schedule of implementation Content of the lessons (concrete vs. abstract) External and environmental factors Teacher buy-in, support, and commitment Lack of training for Second Step Cost

28 Embedded Interventions Interventions that can be embedded within everyday interactions to promote Social Competence and Emotion Regulation School-wide, Class-wide or Individual

29 Modeling and Role Playing Verbalize emotions Model coping strategies Model identification and problem solving when emotional Create role plays/scenarios to help children practice when not in crisis

30 Guide Children in Problem Solving Create a script or routine for solving conflicts in the classroom Create a script or routine for managing emotions Adult can guide child to use routine when upset Create specific emotional outlets –Anger box –Excitement exclamation

31 Other Intervention Ideas Anger-mometer Video modeling DIY Tucker Turtle Social Stories

32 Anger-mometer Can be used to identify or reflect on situations in which child felt angry May include pictures or words Ask child at what point on anger-mometer there is danger of losing control

33 Anger-mometer

34 Video modeling Peer and adult modeling of prosocial behaviors Videotape the child exhibiting positive behavioral interactions Discuss what happened, feelings of persons involved

35 DIY Tucker Turtle 4-step program used to teach the Turtle Technique– how to control feelings and calm down –1) Recognize your feeling(s) –2) Think stop –3) Tuck inside your shell and take 3 deep breaths –4) Come out when calm and think of a solution

36 Step 4

37 Social Stories Social scripts for child to follow in a given situation Used to address behaviors, transitions, new settings Include pictures and words to capture attention of child

38 Social Stories Consequence of Hitting Sometimes I get mad at my friends. They may do something that makes me upset, like take my toys. When I am upset, I must not hit other people. Hitting is not allowed at school. This is a school rule...

39 Conclusion Emotion regulation skills become increasingly refined and independent as children grow older Both direct assessment and self-report can be used to evaluate abilities in emotion regulation Intervention can be used to address emotion regulation in schools –Early childhood curricula such as The Incredible Years, Second Step –Embedded interventions can be implemented across levels

40 References Committee for Children. (1997). Second Step: A violence prevention curriculum. Committee for Children. Fantuzzo, J. W., Bulotsky-Shearer, R., Fusco, R. A., & McWayne, C. (2005). An investigation of preschool classroom behavioral adjustment problems and social-emotional school readiness competencies. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 20, Feng, X., Shaw, D. S., Kovacs, M., Lane, T., ORourke, F. E., & Alarcon, J. H. (2008). Emotion regulation in preschoolers: the roles of behavioral inhibition, maternal affective behavior, and maternal depression. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, Gross, J. J., & John, O. P. (2003). Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: Implications for affect, relationships, and well- being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, Shields, A., & Cicchetti, D. (1997). Emotion regulation among school-age children: The development and validation of a new criterion q-sort scale. Developmental Psychology, 33, Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2003). Treating conduct problems and strengthening social and emotional competence in young children: The Dina Dinosaur treatment program. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 11, Webster-Stratton, C. (2008). The Incredible Years parent training programs. Retrieved from

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