The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Exploring emotional functioning in preschoolers: the role of the mother-child relationship, maternal emotional functioning and neural markers of emotion processing concurrently and over time

Exploring emotional functioning in preschoolers: the role of the mother-child relationship, maternal emotional functioning and neural markers of emotion processing concurrently and over time
Exploring emotional functioning in preschoolers: the role of the mother-child relationship, maternal emotional functioning and neural markers of emotion processing concurrently and over time
The role and importance of parents on children’s emotional development is well documented. Within this literature, theoretical models focus on the ways in which parents socialise their children, highlighting processes such as observational learning, discussion of emotion, and parenting practices related to the management of children’s emotion. Family relationships and, specifically, the parent-child relationship have been emphasised as important contexts for development. Until recently, theoretical models of parental socialisation of emotion generally have not, however, accounted for the specific characteristics of the parent-child relationship. Further, limited research has considered what factors may influence parental socialisation, with emerging research arguing that parental emotional functioning may be a key factor in this.

This thesis proposed a theoretical model of emotion development in which maternal emotional functioning predicted child adjustment via the quality of the parent-child relationship and children’s emotional functioning. Emotional functioning was defined as emotion regulation, understanding and neural processing of cross-modal emotion, and in ii mothers included the related constructs of anxiety and depression symptoms. The parentchild relationship quality was characterised as being negative or positive, and children’s adjustment was operationalised as internalising and externalising symptoms, and prosocial behaviour.

This thesis first systematically reviewed the available evidence for a direct relationship between parental and child emotional functioning at both the behavioural and neural level. Second, to test the proposed model, this thesis explored the associations between parental and child emotional functioning, the parent-child relationship and child adjustment concurrently and over time in mothers and their preschool children (i.e. threeto-five-years-old). A multimethod approach was used, including questionnaires, interactive tasks, observations and event-related potentials (ERPs). This thesis also aimed to identify a novel neural marker of cross-modal emotion processing in children.

The systematic review indicated considerable heterogeneity across studies in terms of sample characteristics (e.g. ages of children) and methods (e.g., whether questionnaires, observations, or experimental). The findings from these studies reported consistent empirical support for the direct association between emotion regulation in parents and children, and provided inconsistent evidence for associations between parents’ and children’s recognition of emotion. This review also highlighted a lack of neuroscientific and longitudinal studies; two aspects the subsequent papers of the current thesis aimed to address.

In the first empirical study of this thesis, analyses considering concurrent associations at Time 1 highlighted key maternal factors, in particular maternal use of suppression and neural processing of emotion, associated with children’s emotional functioning and adjustment. In support of the theoretical model, maternal negativity was found to mediate the relationship between maternal P2 amplitudes to fear and children’s emotion knowledge. Few other associations were observed between maternal emotional iii functioning and child outcome. Maternal positivity was observed as a predictor of children’s externalising symptoms, via children’s emotion lability. The LPP was identified as a marker of children’s cross-modal emotion processing, finding LPP amplitudes to happy faces to be negatively associated with children’s prosocial behaviour concurrently and across time.

The second empirical study was longitudinal in design, and reviewed evidence for the proposed theoretical model from the same study cohort at Time 2. Few significant associations were found in support of the model for the concurrent Time 2 data. Furthermore, there was limited support for the proposed model from the longitudinal analyses. Maternal anxiety at Time 1 was identified as a key predictor of later adjustment, predicting later school adjustment over and above concurrent anxiety. Across time points, child emotion regulation and lability were observed as a key factors in determining children’s psychosocial and academic adjustment.

Taken as a whole, this thesis provides evidence that maternal anxiety and child emotion regulation are strongly linked to children’s adjustment in this age group. It is therefore suggested that to deliver successful and impactful support, maternal anxiety and child emotion regulation are key targets for intervention prior to the transition into primary school. Further larger scale replication of this work is needed.
University of Southampton
Chadwick, Ella Louisa Beth
3324cd03-c945-4bc6-a141-e07fcb77774e
Chadwick, Ella Louisa Beth
3324cd03-c945-4bc6-a141-e07fcb77774e
Kreppner, Jana
6a5f447e-1cfe-4654-95b4-e6f89b0275d6
Hadwin, Julie
a364caf0-405a-42f3-a04c-4864817393ee
Chronaki, Georgia
c5d92279-26be-4b90-81dd-984a0dfefb2f

Chadwick, Ella Louisa Beth (2020) Exploring emotional functioning in preschoolers: the role of the mother-child relationship, maternal emotional functioning and neural markers of emotion processing concurrently and over time. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 212pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

The role and importance of parents on children’s emotional development is well documented. Within this literature, theoretical models focus on the ways in which parents socialise their children, highlighting processes such as observational learning, discussion of emotion, and parenting practices related to the management of children’s emotion. Family relationships and, specifically, the parent-child relationship have been emphasised as important contexts for development. Until recently, theoretical models of parental socialisation of emotion generally have not, however, accounted for the specific characteristics of the parent-child relationship. Further, limited research has considered what factors may influence parental socialisation, with emerging research arguing that parental emotional functioning may be a key factor in this.

This thesis proposed a theoretical model of emotion development in which maternal emotional functioning predicted child adjustment via the quality of the parent-child relationship and children’s emotional functioning. Emotional functioning was defined as emotion regulation, understanding and neural processing of cross-modal emotion, and in ii mothers included the related constructs of anxiety and depression symptoms. The parentchild relationship quality was characterised as being negative or positive, and children’s adjustment was operationalised as internalising and externalising symptoms, and prosocial behaviour.

This thesis first systematically reviewed the available evidence for a direct relationship between parental and child emotional functioning at both the behavioural and neural level. Second, to test the proposed model, this thesis explored the associations between parental and child emotional functioning, the parent-child relationship and child adjustment concurrently and over time in mothers and their preschool children (i.e. threeto-five-years-old). A multimethod approach was used, including questionnaires, interactive tasks, observations and event-related potentials (ERPs). This thesis also aimed to identify a novel neural marker of cross-modal emotion processing in children.

The systematic review indicated considerable heterogeneity across studies in terms of sample characteristics (e.g. ages of children) and methods (e.g., whether questionnaires, observations, or experimental). The findings from these studies reported consistent empirical support for the direct association between emotion regulation in parents and children, and provided inconsistent evidence for associations between parents’ and children’s recognition of emotion. This review also highlighted a lack of neuroscientific and longitudinal studies; two aspects the subsequent papers of the current thesis aimed to address.

In the first empirical study of this thesis, analyses considering concurrent associations at Time 1 highlighted key maternal factors, in particular maternal use of suppression and neural processing of emotion, associated with children’s emotional functioning and adjustment. In support of the theoretical model, maternal negativity was found to mediate the relationship between maternal P2 amplitudes to fear and children’s emotion knowledge. Few other associations were observed between maternal emotional iii functioning and child outcome. Maternal positivity was observed as a predictor of children’s externalising symptoms, via children’s emotion lability. The LPP was identified as a marker of children’s cross-modal emotion processing, finding LPP amplitudes to happy faces to be negatively associated with children’s prosocial behaviour concurrently and across time.

The second empirical study was longitudinal in design, and reviewed evidence for the proposed theoretical model from the same study cohort at Time 2. Few significant associations were found in support of the model for the concurrent Time 2 data. Furthermore, there was limited support for the proposed model from the longitudinal analyses. Maternal anxiety at Time 1 was identified as a key predictor of later adjustment, predicting later school adjustment over and above concurrent anxiety. Across time points, child emotion regulation and lability were observed as a key factors in determining children’s psychosocial and academic adjustment.

Taken as a whole, this thesis provides evidence that maternal anxiety and child emotion regulation are strongly linked to children’s adjustment in this age group. It is therefore suggested that to deliver successful and impactful support, maternal anxiety and child emotion regulation are key targets for intervention prior to the transition into primary school. Further larger scale replication of this work is needed.

Text
Ella Chadwick final thesis Submission (1) - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
Download (2MB)
Text
Permission to deposit thesis - form - Ella Chadwick
Restricted to Repository staff only

More information

Published date: July 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 446893
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/446893
PURE UUID: bfeb0169-1428-4d2a-ab5c-bb721eb5a411
ORCID for Jana Kreppner: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3527-9083

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 25 Feb 2021 17:45
Last modified: 13 Dec 2021 03:00

Export record

Contributors

Author: Ella Louisa Beth Chadwick
Thesis advisor: Jana Kreppner ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Julie Hadwin
Thesis advisor: Georgia Chronaki

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×