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The dynamics of self- and co-regulation in children with emerging emotional and behavioural difficulties

Adegboye, Oluwadolapo 2021. The dynamics of self- and co-regulation in children with emerging emotional and behavioural difficulties. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Developmental research has sought to explore the parent-child relationship as a key context in which we can elucidate sources of risk for and resilience against children’s psychological difficulties. To date, most research on emotional processes (e.g., emotion regulation) in parent-child relationships has relied on methodologies and analytical strategies that obscure their dynamic (i.e., nonlinear) nature. Advances in analytical methods have enabled more nuanced examinations of the dynamics of parent-child emotion and behaviour, capturing both aspects of child self-regulation and coregulation in interactive contexts. In its exploration of dynamic patterns of emotional responding in a sample of mother-child dyads with children experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties, this thesis had four main aims: The first aim was to illustrate whether micro-analytical methods can successfully capture the dynamics of emotion and the regulation of emotion. This was met in all three empirical studies with the application of a molecular approach to observed emotional expressions and regulatory behaviour. The second aim was to uncover patterns of emotional responding (i.e., the influence of children’s avoidance-based, cognitive-behavioural, and approach-based regulatory strategies on displays of anger/frustration). This was met in the empirical study detailed in Chapter 2, where temporal contingencies between children’s displays of negative emotion and regulatory responses were found. In particular, children’s cognitive-behavioural strategies (i.e., self-resignation/helplessness) increased recurrence of negative emotion; and patterns of emotional responding in children at higher levels of emotional and behavioural difficulties were suggestive of a reliance on avoidance-based strategies. The third aim was to index the dynamics of socialisation practices in terms of temporal patterns of contingency between mother and child emotion and behaviour, thus ascertaining whether it is the statistical interdependency with child emotion that makes these practices adaptive. The findings from the empirical study detailed in Chapter 3 revealed interesting patterns: Mothers’ unsupportive coregulatory behaviours appeared to hinder recurrence of child positive emotion (i.e., social adaptiveness), particularly in high internalising children. While mothers’ second-by-second use of autonomy support resolved children’s negative emotion displays, the opposite pattern was found in dyads with children at higher levels of internalising difficulties, where mothers’ second-by-second use of positive directives (i.e., instructional behaviours) instead exacerbated negative emotion. While this appeared to point to low levels of receptiveness to socialisation efforts in dyads with such children, the effect of children’s motivational tendencies on emotion displays signified the need for the examination of mothers’ interpretations of their child’s signals. The empirical study in Chapter 4 investigated the role of attachment-based constructs, namely, narrative coherence (i.e., parental mental representations of the child and parent-child relationship). It particularly found associations between the coherence of mothers’ mental representations and increased engagement in supportive coregulatory behaviour, as well as higher levels of contingent responsiveness with children’s displays of positive emotion. This chapter thus achieved the final aim of the thesis in its attempt to bridge the gap between traditional parent-child relationship qualities and dynamic social processes. Taken together, this indicates that a focus on dynamic self- and co-regulatory patterns in high-risk populations provides new avenues for refining theoretical models and informing clinical practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 May 2021
Date of Acceptance: 27 May 2021
Last Modified: 27 May 2021 11:01

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