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Emotional Regulation

The challenge: Regulating our emotions
Socialization requires regulating our emotions
Emotional regulation: the capacity to manage one’s emotional state
This occurs in the frontal lobes, which are still developing in childhood.
Emotional Regulation

Two temperamental types that have problems with emotional regulation
Externalizing tendencies
Difficulty inhibiting anger and impulses
These children wear their emotions on their sleeves.
Their actions are disruptive and aggressive.
Internalizing tendencies
Difficulty managing anxiety
These children hold back too much.
They appear timid and insecure.
They often look anxious or depressed.
As children enter concrete operations at age 7 or 8:
They look beyond immediate surface appearances.
They learn to understand inner states.
They fully understand that others have different views.
They realize they are not the center of the universe.
Although, they do not all mature at the same rate

Self-awareness is our ability to think about and analyze ourselves. Defined as the ability to observe our abilities and actions from an outside frame of reference and to reflect on our inner state.
From age 3 to 7 children shift from the external fact-oriented self to the internal psychological self
At age 3, “I have brown hair, I have a dog named Skipper, and I live in a big red house.”
At age 7, “I’m pretty popular at school, because I’m friendly. But sometimes I get in a bad mood, and I can say mean things. I’m really good at social studies, but not so good at math.”
Self-esteem is the tendency to evaluate oneself as either “good” or “bad.” It occurs as a result of comparing oneself to others.
This tendency becomes a major issue during elementary school.
Self-esteem appears to decline in early elementary school as children begin to rate themselves against their classmates.
Erikson’s psychosocial stage for middle childhood:
Industry (striving for a goal) vs. inferiority
Children have to learn to work for what they want to achieve.
They learn that hard work is valued (especially in individualistic cultures?), and people who do not work hard are viewed negatively.
Children who do not see themselves as “industrious” develop feelings of inferiority.
What are the pros and cons of valuing industry?
How do we rate ourselves?
Concrete operations gives us the ability to serialize.
Now we can place ourselves and others in a hierarchy.
We compare ourselves to others and feel inferior/superior.
We realize that we rise and fall differently in different areas, but it is the areas children hold valuable that determine self-worth.

Harter’s studies indicate 5 basic competence areas children in Western countries use to determine their self-esteem.
Scholastic competence
Behavioral conduct (obedient or “good”)
Athletic skills
Peer likeability (popularity with other children)
Physical appearance

Children in communal cultures do not appear to have the same areas of concern.

Self-Esteem Distortions
Excessively high self-esteem
Children with externalizing tendencies report high self-esteem with the position “I’m fine. It’s their problem.”
With this attitude they will have trouble improving or won’t see a need to improve.
Excessively low self-esteem
Children with internalizing tendencies tend to be overly self-critical.
They see criticism where none was intended.
They are at risk of developing learned helplessness.
They believe nothing they do works and will stop trying.
Again, with this attitude they will have trouble improving.

Promoting realistic self-esteem
We can’t simply tell children they are wonderful.
Create the proper person-environment fit.
To promote positive self-esteem:
Enhance self-efficacy
Promote a realistic perception of themselves
Promoting Self-Esteem
Enhance self-efficacy
Use Vygotsky's scaffolding approach.
Find the child’s expertise and build from there.
Move at the child’s speed and reinforce results.
Change the environment if necessary .
Don’t expect all children to fit in the same mold.
Promote a realistic perception of themselves
Give lots of love and a can-do attitude.
Use rational-emotive concepts to get them to evaluate themselves positively in specific terms rather than defining themselves in global statements.
Cultural Aspects of Esteem
Self-Esteem, Asian Style
Western self-esteem is inherently individualistic; it involves self-confidence and pride in personal success.
By comparison, in communal cultures:
People describe themselves with lower self-esteem.
They place more emphasis on harmony.
People try more to fit in with the group.
They play down the differences between people.
Prosocial Behavior
Doing good
Normal helpful and self-sacrificing behavior
Prosocial behavior ranges from self-sacrifice to daily helpful tasks.
Behavior can be evident in preschool; sharing toys
Early prosocial behavior correlates to the same in older age
One type of pro-social behavior - altruistic behavior - is done without requiring a reward for oneself.
Cultural variations/varying motivations
In China it is expected that one will not admit good deeds.
In some countries prosocial behavior toward one’s family is the expected norm.
Altruism involves empathy and sympathy.
Empathy-feeling the emotions of another
Can produce a variety of reactions
Sympathy- feeling upset for a person; necessary for acting prosocially.
The act we choose will be tied to our self-efficacy.
Those with low self-confidence will perform less altruistic acts.
Genetics and secure attachment correlate with prosocial behavior.
Socializing the Child
Socializing a prosocial self for caring acts:
Rewarding pro-social behavior does NOT work.
Induction is actively scaffolding moral learning.
Say “You are a caring person!” rather than “That was nice!”
Praise good behavior and connect it to internal states.

Socializing a prosocial self for hurting acts:
When the child does something bad use induction.
Help the child internalize the act and feel the other’s pain and develop guilt (not shame).
“Can you imagine how Bobby feels?” “Would you like to feel that way?” “How can you make Bobby feel better?” = guilt
“Look what you did to Bobby. You are so bad.” = shame
Shame Versus Guilt
Shame occurs when we are humiliated.
Shame makes us want to retreat from the world.
Shame makes us want to withdraw from people.
Shamed people get angry and want to strike back.
Shame diminishes people.

Guilt occurs when we break a moral standard or when we hurt another individual.
Guilty people feel bad about what they have done.
Guilty people want to apologize and make amends.
Guilt enlarges people.
Doing Harm
Aggression: any act designed to cause harm to another.
Developmental changes:
Aggression appears early in life and peaks at years 2 or 3, when they are being disciplined but can’t control their actions.
At 4 and 5, as the frontal lobes come “on-line,” and we can regulate our emotions and understand the adult rules, so aggression declines.
By age 8 aggression centers on self-esteem and the ego, and is often aimed at retaliation for having been hurt.
Categorizing Aggression
Types of Aggression
Instrumental aggression
Actively initiated to achieve a goal
Reactive aggression
Made in response to being hurt, threatened, or deprived
Direct aggression
A form of hostile aggression
Hostile acts directed at an individual as opposed to – Indirect, hurting someone through another.
Relational aggression
Done to destroy self-esteem
most common among girls

Aggressive Children
Understanding Highly Aggressive Children
Most children get less aggressive with age.
However, while their peer’s aggressive tendencies are decreasing, a small percentage of children maintain high levels of aggression in elementary school.
They are labeled with externalizing disorders.
They are classified as “out-of-control” and “defiant.”
Pathway to Aggression
The path to producing problem aggression
Step 1: harshly disciplining an exuberant toddler
Parents try shame by screaming and spanking.
Parents do not use induction techniques.
Step 2: Peer and teacher rejection in school
By kindergarten children can clearly label peers as “bad” and “to be avoided.”
Highly Aggressive Children
Highly aggressive kids tend to think differently.
Aggressive children have a “hostile attributional bias.”
Seeing other people’s motives as hostile when they are not
Aggressive children are prone to hostile acts.
When choosing a response they pick aggressive ones.
Aggressive responses lead to a more hostile world.

Another view: a developmental systems approach:
A variety of negative forces (such as family and community problems) raise the risk of aggressive behavior.
Boys are more likely to be labeled aggressive with externalizing problems than girls.
Boys are more likely to be exuberant children.
Boys have more trouble regulating emotions.
This is not confined to the United States.
Researchers observed children in four other countries
In each society boys were more aggressive than girls
And the research shows:
High levels of aggression in elementary school leads to delinquency during the teenage years.


Types of Play:
3 to 4 years old
Begins to show up around 4 years old
There are many kinds of play.
Rough and tumble play
shoving and wrestling - mostly boy oriented behavior
Fantasy play – separating from reality
it can include rough and tumble play.

The Development and Decline of Pretending
One-year-olds initiate fantasy play but need adults to continue the fantasy and scaffold the ideas.
Collaborative pretend play (fantasize together) begins around age 3 and is very strong by age 4.
It requires a theory of mind (knowing the other person has a different perspective).
It helps teach us how to get along with other minds.
Fantasy play promotes interests that extend into adulthood.

Scanning the global scene
If children have the TIME - fantasy play develops.
Some cultures do not see the value of fantasy play.

The Purpose of Pretending
Play teaches relationship lessons.
It can help to teach constancy of identity.
Play allows children to practice adult roles.
It allows children to take control in their fantasies.
Play furthers understanding of social norms. Children are uncomfortable with proposals for gory themes or behaviors that violate adult norms.
Helping children through play
It can be a window into a child’s thinking.
It can show possible future problems.
It can be used to communicate.

Play segregation
When does gender segregated play develop?
In the toddler years everyone plays together.
By about age 3 gender segregation begins.
In elementary school only about 25% of play is with the opposite sex.
Play Styles
Boy & Girl Styles
Boys run around like mad men in a hierarchy.
Boy groups are larger than girl groups.
Boys tend not to play with girls’ toys.
Play resembles super hero & warrior modes.
Girls are more sedate in a collaborative effort.
Girls more often play one-to-one.
Girls can span the gender gap – i.e., play with trucks.
Girl play involves nurturing themes.

This separation of play comes from three things
Biology, socialization, and inner thoughts
Effects of Biology
A biological underpinning
Evidence from around the world indicates genes are at work in determining play patterns.
Experiments with Rhesus monkeys show they play exactly like human children.
Female rhesus fetuses exposed to testosterone grow up acting more masculine in their play.
Studies indicate that girls exposed to higher testosterone levels in vitro act more masculine even into their adult years.

Effects of Socialization
The amplifying effect of socialization
Parents treat their children differently.
Induction with girls; power assertion with boys
Peers are a powerful socializing force also.
Specific toys evoke specific orientation behavior.
Gender stereotypic behavior increases in segregation.
Popular children are more stereotypical in behavior.
The impact of thinking
Gender schema theory says that once children know what sex they are, they watch and model the behavior of that sex.
This behavior starts as early as 2.5 years, when children achieve gender identity.
Core Qualities: Similarity, Trust, and Emotional Support
Friends have common interests.
Preoperational children are more external (choose friends based on activities).
Concrete operational children describe friends in terms of inner qualities.
Loyalty also becomes an issue in elementary school.
Best friends are believed to fulfill a developmental need for self-validation and intimacy.
Emerges around age 9
Believed to be a stepping-stone to a truly adult romance
Two Benefits of Friendship
Protecting and teaching functions of friends
Friends protect our developing self.
Friends give us a safe zone to grow within.
Friendships get rocky if we are let down.
Friendships end if we feel betrayed.
Friends teach us to manage our emotions.
Since friendship is conditional we must control ourselves.
Negotiating conflicts is crucial to friendship.
Cultural differences
Some cultures accept conflict within friendship.
Other cultures feel friends must be more identical.

Measured by the sociometric technique
Asking children “Which people do you like most / least?”
Having friends and being popular are two separate things. Popularity is status oriented. Not friendship.
Popularity requires prosocial skills, an outgoing nature, good adjustment, and interpersonal skills.
Having friends only requires emotional regulation.
Popularity requires proper social etiquette.
Popular children are usually prosocial and kind.
Having it “all together” emotionally and socially

How do Children Rank Others in Popularity?
Popular children are frequently named in the most liked category and never fall into the disliked pile. They stand out as being liked by everyone.

Average children receive a few most liked and perhaps one or so disliked nominations. They rank around the middle range of status in the class.
How do children rank others in popularity?
Rejected children frequently appear in the most disliked pile and never in the preferred category. They stand out among their classmates in a negative way.
Neglected children don’t appear on the radar.
Controversial children appear in both most like and most disliked category.

Rejected Children
Disorders of Rejected children
They have externalizing (and sometimes internalizing) disorders.
Highly aggressive children are often rejected.
Socially anxious children are rapidly shunned, and shyness produces a reciprocal downward spiral.
Children outside the social norms (tomboys) are also apt to be rejected.
If a child is different enough from the norm, he or she may be rejected.
overweight, low income, different religion or ethnicity
Rejected Children
The fate of childhood rejection
Are rejected children going to have problems later?
Good and bad news is: sometimes.
It depends on the behavior that got them rejected (aggressive vs. shy).

Middle School Meanness
Rebellion becomes popular in middle school.
Study shows that girls, in particular, with high levels of relational aggression become popular.
Although they are less likely to be liked by the larger group
Also known as peer victimization
Children low on the social ladder are typical targets.
Victims are usually anxious, unconfident and have fewer friends.
Bullying often requires an audience.
The passive approval of the audience is the best place to start intervention programs.
Prevention programs
The Olweus Bully Prevention Program targets the entire school.
Social skills training teaches emotional management to rejected children (usually externalizing children), so that they can react more appropriately with their peers.
Socializing skills ideally need to be developed by age 5.
Elementary school can be too late
Intervention needs to occur as soon as the problem is identified.