The expression and regulation of anger in toddlers: Relations to maternal behavior and mental representations

Ruth Feldman, Daphna Dollberg, Roni Nadam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anger is an intense and adaptive approach emotion that undergoes significant development during the toddler years. We assessed the expression of anger and the strategies toddlers use to regulate it in relation to maternal behavior and mental representations. Seventy-four toddlers were observed in three anger-eliciting paradigms: toy removal (TR), still-face (SF), and delayed gratification (DG). Anger expression and three clusters of regulatory behaviors were micro-coded: putative regulatory behaviors, attention manipulation, and play behaviors. Maternal relational style was coded for sensitivity and intrusiveness, and mental representations of the mother-child relationship were assessed for joy and anger. Children expressed the most anger during the TR, less during the SF, and minimally during the DG. Use of putative regulatory behaviors was highest during the SF, whereas during the TR children employed newly acquired skills, such as focused attention and substitutive play, in the service of anger regulation. Anger expression and regulation were differentially related to the negative and positive components in the mother's behavior and representations, and maternal intrusiveness moderated the relations between angry representations and the degree of child anger during the SF. Results are consistent with dynamic models of emotions and accord with perspectives that emphasize the role of sensitive parenting in facilitating emotion regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-320
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (#08/1318) and the NARSAD independent investigator award to RF

Funding

The study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (#08/1318) and the NARSAD independent investigator award to RF

FundersFunder number
National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression
Israel Science Foundation08/1318

    Keywords

    • Emotion regulation
    • Maternal representations
    • Mother-child interaction
    • Still-face

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'The expression and regulation of anger in toddlers: Relations to maternal behavior and mental representations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this