Exploring the role of parenting processes in the intergenerational transmission of emotion regulation and cognitive regulation
Research has shown that self-regulation, including emotion regulation and cognitive regulation, is important for a wide range of outcomes across the lifespan. Healthy self-regulation may be particularly important during early childhood, as children transition from co-regulation with their caregiver to learning how to self-regulate, and as they transition to formal schooling and the expectations associated with it. Research has also shown a consistent link between parents’ self-regulatory abilities and that of their children, suggesting that self-regulation may be intergenerationally transmitted. This report explores whether parenting processes that promote children’s emotional and cognitive development are specific to the relations between emotion regulation and cognitive regulation in mother and child. The current study tested these relations in a low-income, community sample of 160 dyads of mothers (age range = 20-46-years-old) and their preschoolers (age range = 3-6-years-old). Results indicated that more emotional dysregulation in mothers predicted more emotional dysregulation in children, however, unsupportive parenting responses did not mediate this relation. Mothers’ cognitive working memory did not predict children’s cognitive regulation and was not related to mothers’ cognitively stimulating parenting. Additionally, neither mothers’ emotion regulation nor cognitive regulation related to children’s performance on behavioral self-regulation tasks. Results further support the wider body of literature that demonstrate strong relations between parental and child emotion regulation and emotion-focused parenting processes, however, this study failed to demonstrate links between parent and child cognitive regulation and parenting processes that stimulate cognitive development. Possible explanations and recommendations for future research are offered.