Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 671–683 | Cite as

Longitudinal Associations of Parental Emotion Socialization and Children’s Emotion Regulation: The Moderating Role of ADHD Symptomatology

  • Rosanna P. Breaux
  • Julia D. McQuade
  • Elizabeth A. Harvey
  • Rebecca J. Zakarian


Theory and research suggest that parents’ reactions to children’s emotions play a critical role in teaching children effective emotion regulation (ER) skills, but no studies have directly examined the role that parent emotion socialization plays in the development of ER in children with ADHD. Gaining insight into the causes of impaired ER, particularly in youth with ADHD who are known to have poor ER, has important theoretical and translational significance. The present study is the first to longitudinally examine whether emotion socialization predicts later physiological and adult-reported measures of ER in children with and without ADHD. It also sought to determine if these relations are moderated by ADHD symptoms. Participants were 61 children (31 girls, 30 boys; M = 10.67 years, SD = 1.28) with and without clinically significant ADHD symptoms. At Time 1, parent reports of emotion socialization and parent- and teacher-report of child ADHD symptoms were collected. At Time 2, child ER measures were collected based on parent- and teacher-report and physiological reactivity during an impossible puzzle and a social rejection task. Physiological measures included respiratory sinus arrhythmia and skin conductance level (SCL). Supportive parenting practices were associated with better parent-rated emotion regulation skills for all children and greater SCL reactivity for children with high ADHD symptoms. Non-supportive parenting reactions were associated with greater adult-rated emotional lability for children with high ADHD symptoms. Results highlight the importance of considering multiple aspects of ER, including physiological manifestations. Findings suggest that parents’ use of adaptive emotion socialization practices may serve as a protective factor for children’s ER development and may be particularly critical for youth with ADHD. Our findings support the use of interventions addressing parent emotion socialization to help foster better ER in children.


Emotion socialization Emotion regulation ADHD Respiratory sinus arrythmia Skin conductance level 



We are grateful to the families and teachers who generously participated in this study. We would like to acknowledge Rose Miller, Elizabeth Mathias, Angelina Gomez, Taylor Penzel, and Kristy Larsen for their important role in collecting this data.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all parents included in the study; assent was obtained from all children included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosanna P. Breaux
    • 1
  • Julia D. McQuade
    • 2
  • Elizabeth A. Harvey
    • 1
  • Rebecca J. Zakarian
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyAmherst CollegeAmherstUSA

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