How do young children calm themselves when they are upset? What factors contribute to children's abilities to modulate distress and to "rev up" when it is playtime? What are the consequences for adaptive behavior of being facile at managing distress? These questions fall under the broad rubric of emotion regulation, and, more particularly, the development of emotional self-regulation. This topic cuts across traditionally separate areas in psychology such as temperament, neurophysiology, motivation, and personality. One of the reasons the area has become popular in the field of child development is that it is a broad rubric that can account for how and why emotions organize and facilitate various psychological processes such as attention and problem solving, or, alternatively disrupt such processes (Cole, Martin, & Dennis, 2004). In addition, emotion regulation applies to the life span (Cicchetti, Ganiban, & Barnett, 1991): While clearly the capacity to regulate emotion changes with age, even newborns have rudimentary strategies for dealing with emotions.

The past few years have seen increasing interest in the development of emotion regulation. Several volumes have been devoted to the topic (e.g., Infancy, Vol. 3(2), 2002) and comment and debate about conceptual and methodological issues in the field have received journal space (e.g., Bridges, Denham, & Ganiban, 2004; Cole, Martin, & Dennis, 2004). Some of our recent progress in understanding the development of emotion regulation has been the result of advances in related areas such as the development of attention (e.g., Posner & Rothbart, 2000) and the neurophysiological bases of reactivity (e.g., Fox & Calkins, 2003). Further, methodological additions such as the use of temporal analysis (e.g., Buss & Goldsmith, 1998) have allowed us to increasingly take a process view of emotion regulation. All of these advances contribute to a reaffirmation that emotion regulation is a construct that allows us to better understand children's developmental pathways.

The area of emotional self-regulation highlights the changing role of the self in the development of emotion regulation. In our work, we have been interested in the processes by which children develop the internal mechanisms to "self-regulate" emotion; that is, to be the origin of such capacities. Using self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985), we conceptualize the development of emotional self-regulation as a movement from reliance on outside sources or control-related processes to a growing capacity for autonomous, flexible, smooth, and adaptive regulation. We see this movement as an active process, part of the organism's innate propensity to master and become autonomous with respect to both his or her internal and external environments. Self-determination theory provides a way for us to understand the processes through which the development of emotion regulation takes place, including its energization and the factors which facilitate or forestall it.

In this chapter, we present a theory of the development of emotional self-regulation, focusing in particular on the toddler and early preschool years. We begin by describing the functionalist approach to emotions which underlies our work. We then tie this view of emotions to the concept of emotion regulation. Next, we describe self-determination theory, the lens through which we view the development of emotional self-regulation. Given the varied use of terminology in the literature, we include a section on key distinctions such as those between emotion control and emotion regulation and emotion management versus emotional integration. Following this, we provide an in-depth discussion of our framework for understanding the development of emotional self-regulation that includes a review of empirical support for our theory. Drawing on our own work and that of others (e.g., Calkins, 1994; Kopp, 1989), we also present a model of factors that contribute to emotional self-regulation, including those within the child (temperament) and aspects of the social environment (caregiver practices). We conclude by discussing some of the conceptual and methodological issues facing emotion regulation researchers, the implications of emotion regulation for adaptation, and the directions for future research.

Single Parentings Guide

Single Parentings Guide

Finally! You Can Put All Your Worries To Rest! You Can Now Instantly Learn Some Little-Known But Highly Effective Tips For Successful Single Parenting! Understand Your Role As A Single Motherfather, And Learn How To Give Your Child The Love Of Both Parents Single Handedly.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment