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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 Use of emotional response to meet demands of the situation and achieve personal goals Deficits linked to psychopathological traits, disorders such as ADHD, ASDs, Bipolar D/O, Depression, Anxiety 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 5m. – more intentional communication leads to caregiver ER 12 m. – can communicate needs, if not met

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 Begin to see impact of attachment/parent responsivity on ER Interaction of temperament, security, and parent behaviors/environment shape ER EC begins to play a role via temperamental characteristics

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 Peer relationships - must learn to negotiation socially, wherein emotion regulation plays a large role

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 Adolescence - Emotional expression is specified – different towards adults and peers, dependent on situation

7 Emotion Regulation & 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 Cognitive reappraisal considered an antecedent-focused strategy (i.e., rethinking a situation to reduce emotional impact – such as viewing a bad grade on a test as a reminder to study harder next time) Expressive suppression considered a response-focused strategy (i.e., inhibition of emotion-expressive behavior that is already enacted – such as bluffing during a card game)

14 ERQ: Sample Items Reappraisal: Suppression:
“When I want to feel less negative emotion, I change the way I’m thinking about the situation” “I control my emotions by changing the way I think about the situation I’m in” Suppression: “I keep my emotions to myself” “When I am feeling positive emotions, I am careful not to express them” Reliability and validity developed with undergraduate sample; half or more women in 20’s, somewhat ethnically diverse sample (large portion Caucasian and Asian American, some Latino, less African American) Measure not appropriate for young children, as it requires degree of insight into emotional appraisals and reactions

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 Examiner Report
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 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, O’Rourke, & Alarcon (2008) Asked children to rank-order set of toys for reward; provided them with the least desirable for completing task Left the child alone with undesirable toy for 2 minutes, then returned to give them the desired toy Identified two factors: active regulation and joy; and passive regulation and sadness

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 BASIC Early Childhood can be administered by a parent or teacher at home or in school Leader’s manual includes commonly asked questions, brainstorm/value activities, role play practice, home activities, and handouts

21 The Incredible Years Parenting Program (BASIC) Dina Dinosaur Program
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 **INFORMATION ON FREQUENCY OF INSTRUCTION, MATERIALS

22 The Incredible Years BASIC Early Childhood Parent Program
Strengthening Children’s 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 Includes 9 DVD’s that can be shown in weekly 2-hour group sessions Leader manual, parent home notes as reminders for skill covered that week, take-home practice assignments for parents, book for parents trouble shooting guide, refrigerator magnets Aimed at parents but could be used for teacher training?

23 The Incredible Years Dina Dinosaur Treatment Program
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 Includes preschool/pre-k and school-aged lessons Designed for small group (6 children), hr sessions delivered weekly Videotape vignettes and puppets as props, with scripts and discussion questions for leader Delivered by counselors, therapists, early childhood specialists Can be offered simultaneously with parent program

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” Encourage the child to identify what changes they noticed in their body at the time they were/are angry. Examples include: feeling hot in the face or tummy, clenched jaw or fists, shaking, seeing red Pictures or words can be used, based upon age, functioning, and/or understanding of the child (ex. Children with autism- visual learners) Some children lose control easier than others, and may find it hard to monitor their anger. The most effective approach for these children may be appropriate and consistent consequences for their angry behaviors.

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 Video clips should be as long as child’s attention span will allow. Keep them simple, only focus on 1-2 behaviors or skills at a time.

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” Combination of picture story and model. Read the story to children and model appropriate ways of remaining calm. Practice the steps often. Recognize and comment when the child stays calm.

36 Step 4 Can be used to prepare for and help the child handle disappointment or change, or to think of possible solutions. Solutions include: get a teacher, ask nicely, ignore, play, say “Please”, share, trade a toy/item, wait and take turns

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 Behaviors include: keeping hands to self, biting, spitting, playing with friends Transitions: clean up, washing hands/toileting, lining up New settings: new school, field trip, vacation

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., O’Rourke, 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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