Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Boy toddlers need extra help dealing with negative emotions, experts urge

Date:
March 11, 2011
Source:
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Summary:
The way you react to your two-year-old's temper tantrums or clinginess may lead to anxiety, withdrawal and behavior problems down the road, and the effect is more pronounced if the child is a boy who often displays such negative emotions as anger and social fearfulness, reports a new study.

The way you react to your two-year-old's temper tantrums or clinginess may lead to anxiety, withdrawal and behavior problems down the road, and the effect is more pronounced if the child is a boy who often displays such negative emotions as anger and social fearfulness, reports a new University of Illinois study.

Related Articles


"Young children, especially boys, may need their parents' help working through angry or fearful emotions. If you punish toddlers for their anger and frustration or act as if their fears are silly or shameful, they may internalize those negative emotions, and that may lead to behavior problems as they get older," said Nancy McElwain, a U of I associate professor of human development.

McElwain and lead author Jennifer Engle examined data gleaned from observations of 107 children who were part of a larger study of children's social and emotional development and parent-child relationships.

When the children were 33 months old, mothers and fathers were asked how often their child had displayed anger or social fearfulness in the last month. The parents were also asked how they would respond to the child's negative emotions in several hypothetical situations.

"We investigated two types of parental reactions to children's negative emotions. One type of reaction was to minimize their child's emotions; for example, a parent might say, 'Stop behaving like a baby.' Another type of reaction was punishing the child for these emotions. A parent might send the child to his room for crying or being upset, or take away a toy or a privilege," Engle said.

When children reached 39 months, parents answered questionnaires about their child's current behavior problems.

Moms and dads who were apt to punish their kids for their fears and frustrations were more likely to have children who were anxious and withdrawn at the time of the second assessment. And the effect was especially pronounced for boys who had been identified as having a high incidence of negative emotions at 33 months, she said.

"When parents punish their toddlers for becoming angry or scared, children learn to hide their emotions instead of showing them. These children may become increasingly anxious when they have these feelings because they know they'll face negative consequences," Engle said.

The researchers are intrigued with the finding that little boys were especially affected when they're not supported during times of fear or frustration.

"In our culture, boys are discouraged from expressing their emotions. If you add parental punishment to these cultural expectations, the outcome for boys who often experience negative emotions may be especially detrimental," Engle said.

According to the researchers, parents play an important role in helping children learn how to regulate and express their emotions. This study, which gathered responses from both mothers and fathers, adds to a growing body of work that suggests that both parents are important in this process, McElwain said.

"When children are upset, it's better if you can talk with them and help them work through their emotions rather than sending them to their room to work through their feelings on their own. Young children, especially little boys who are prone to feeling negative emotions intensely, need your comfort and support when their emotions threaten to overwhelm them," Engle said.

Funding was provided by the U of I Research Board and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The original article was written by Phyllis Picklesimer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer M. Engle, Nancy L. McElwain. Parental Reactions to Toddlers' Negative Emotions and Child Negative Emotionality as Correlates of Problem Behavior at the Age of Three. Social Development, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.2010.00583.x

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Boy toddlers need extra help dealing with negative emotions, experts urge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308124916.htm>.
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (2011, March 11). Boy toddlers need extra help dealing with negative emotions, experts urge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308124916.htm
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Boy toddlers need extra help dealing with negative emotions, experts urge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308124916.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins