Emotion Regulation in Preschool-Aged Children with Very Low Birth Weight: Outcomes Relative to Normal Birth Weight Children and Associations of Child Characteristics and Maternal Behavior

by Leah J. Orchinik

Institution: Case Western Reserve University
Department: Psychology
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: Psychology; parent child interaction, maternal behavior, low birth weight, emotion regulation
Record ID: 2059126
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=case1415955246


The construct of emotion regulation is defined as the process of initiating, modulating, and sustaining emotional states and expressions and is important for successful social and emotional development. A child’s emotion regulation skills are influenced by numerous factors, including parenting characteristics such as sensitivity, intrusiveness, and responsiveness. Based on evidence of early social deficits, children with very low birth weight may be at risk for delayed or impaired social competence and emotion regulation skills, and research suggests parents of these children have more difficulty perceiving behavioral and affective cues from their children. The current study explored child emotion regulation, maternal behavior, and mother-child interactions in a sample of 3- and 4-year-old children with very low birth weight compared to a normal birth weight control group on two laboratory tasks designed to elicit child frustration and disappointment. In addition, mothers completed questionnaires on child behavior and temperament and parent characteristics. The observational tasks were videotaped and coded using the Parent Child Interaction System. Findings revealed that for one of the tasks, children with very low birth weight were less expressive than the normal birthweight controls. For one task, greater maternal sensitivity was predictive of less autonomous coping and more child negative affect, maternal responsiveness was associated with less autonomous behavior and greater child expressiveness, and maternal positive content was associated with less autonomous coping, though these findings did not vary by group. Results are interpreted in the context of the demands placed on the child and mother, and the need for future research is emphasized.