Faculty Sponsor, if applicable
Parental trauma has often been linked to impairments in parenting and attachment with children. Such impairments have been associated with poor emotion regulation in children. This research sought to explore a direct relationship between parental trauma experiences and child emotion regulation within a sample of economically disadvantaged preschoolers. Forty-seven mother-child dyads completed an in-person assessment at Head Start preschools in Chicago. Children completed the Disappointing Toy paradigm (Denham, 1986) and parents reported demographic data and lifetime trauma exposure histories, including interpersonal stressors, accidents and disasters. Child positive and negative affect were examined when given a disappointing toy by an examiner, followed by when the children were left alone with the toy. Differences in affect between task intervals were calculated to indicate emotion regulation. A model including parental trauma, controlling for child age, and sex accounted for 24.5% of variance in child emotion regulation (F (1, 48) = 5.195). Parental exposure to trauma (β = .158, p < .01) was found to be a significant predictor of increased change in negative affect. These results suggest that a parent’s traumatic experiences are related to emotion regulation capacities in their children. Additional studies should explore the mechanism underlying this relationship.
Type of Research
Undergraduate Student - Independent Study, McNair Scholar