Should Parents Support a Child’s Negative Emotions?

Parenting is not an easy task. One challenging area of parental involvement is the response to a child’s emotional state, particularly when a child is sad.

New research suggests that when mothers support their children’s negative emotions, surprisingly, these same children appear less socially adjusted when rated by teachers.

This finding is in contrast to the perceptions of mother’s who believe the support results in the child being more socially skilled.

Researchers discovered mothers’ supportive reactions predicted fewer socioemotional skills and more problem behaviors, according to children’s third-grade teachers.

These contrasting patterns suggest a potential downside to mothers’ supportiveness of children’s negative emotions for third-grade children’s social adjustment in school.

“It’s not clear if the parents are causing these problems by hovering or providing too much support when less support is needed,” says Dr. Vanessa Castro, co-author of the Social Development study.

Castro explains that the findings suggest additional investigation is necessary to help determine “If the parents are rightfully providing more support because their children are experiencing these social and emotional problems, or if the children are exhibiting very different emotional and social behaviors at home than they are at school.”

Nevertheless, the research suggest that is may be helpful for parents to consider other strategies to guide their children to develop their own skills in emotion regulation and social interaction.

Source: Wiley/EurekAlert