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The contribution of emotion knowledge, language ability, and maternal emotion socialization style to explaining toddlers’ emotion regulation

Abstract In this study, we set out to advance understanding of the association between emotion knowledge (EK) and emotion regulation (ER) in toddlerhood, by innovatively examining a model that simultaneously takes into account both individual factors, such as age, gender, and language ability, and contextual factors, such as maternal emotion socialization styles (coaching vs. dismissing). Participants were 242 toddlers (141 girls; Mage = 28.79 months, SD = 3.48) and their mothers (Mage = 35.60 years; SD = 4.95). We evaluated children's language ability and ER via parent‐report questionnaires, assessing their EK via a direct measure individually administered at the nursery. The mothers also completed a questionnaire on their own emotion socialization style. Children's EK was positively correlated with their ER skills as reported by their parents. Structural equation modeling showed that emotion‐dismissing maternal behaviors were significantly negatively associated with toddlers’ emotional competencies whereas maternal emotion‐coaching styles were significantly positively associated with higher levels of these competences. Finally, language ability was positively associated with ER. We discuss the theoretical and educational implications of these outcomes, as well as potential new lines of inquiry.

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