Parental reactions to children's negative emotions: Longitudinal relations to quality of children's social functioning

Nancy Eisenberg, Richard Fabes, Stephanie A. Shepard, Ivanna K. Guthrie, Bridget C. Murphy, Mark Reiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

300 Scopus citations


Relations between self-reported parental reactions to children's negative emotions (PNRs) and children's socially appropriate/problem behavior and negative emotionality were examined longitudinally. Evidence was consistent with the conclusion that relations between children's externalizing (but not internalizing) emotion and parental punitive reactions to children's negative emotions are bidirectional. Reports of PNRs generally were correlated with low quality of social functioning. In structural models, mother-reported problem behavior at ages 10-12 was at least marginally predicted from mother-reported problem behavior, children's regulation, and parental punitive or distress reactions. Moreover, parental distress and punitive reactions at ages 6-8 predicted reports of children's regulation at ages 8-10, and regulation predicted parental punitive reactions at ages 10-12. Father reports of problem behavior at ages 10-12 were predicted by earlier problem behavior and parental distress or punitive reactions; some of the relations between regulation and parental reactions were similar to those in the models for mother-reported problem behavior. Parental perceptions of their reactions were substantially correlated over 6 years. Some nonsupportive reactions declined in the early to mid-school years, but all increased into late childhood/early adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-534
Number of pages22
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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