Parents' Reactions to Children's Negative Emotions: Relations to Children's Social Competence and Comforting Behavior

Nancy Eisenberg, Richard Fabes, Bridget C. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

344 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the relations of mothers' and fathers' reported emotion-related practices to parents' and teachers' reports of third-to sixth-grade children's social skills, popularity, and coping, as well as the quantity and quality of children's comforting of an infant. Mothers' problem-focused reactions tended to be positively associated with children's social functioning and coping, whereas maternal minimizing reactions tended to be linked to lower levels of social competence and high levels of avoidant coping. There were few findings for fathers' reactions, although fathers reported fewer problem-focused reactions with socially competent, in contrast to less competent, daughters. Emotion-focused and problem-focused maternal reactions, as well as encouragement of the expression of emotion, were associated with boys' children's comforting behavior, although a moderate level of maternal encouragement of the expression of emotion was associated with quality of girls' comforting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2227-2247
Number of pages21
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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