Domestic Violence, Emotion Coaching, and Child Adjustment
Katz, L. F., & Windecker-Nelson, B. (2006). Domestic violence, emotion coaching, and child adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 56-67.
What is the study about?
Children from domestically violent homes are at-risk for a variety of negative developmental outcomes, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, externalizing problems, and general difficulty with emotion regulation and expression. This study focused on determining if parents in domestically violent homes could effectively assist their children with emotion regulation, otherwise referred to as emotion coaching.
Emotion coaching, or teaching children how to identify, express, and manage their emotions, has been linked to positive outcomes related to overall child adjustment. Additionally, there is increasing evidence that children learn how to regulate their emotions through parent-child interactions. However, because parents residing in households where domestic violence is prevalent may experience difficulty with their own emotion regulation, researchers predicted that these parents would have difficulty teaching emotion regulation skills to their children.
The study also examined whether parents experiencing domestic violence had difficulty coaching their children with specific emotions based on their status as either the perpetrator or victim of the domestic violence. For example, it was hypothesized that parent victims of domestic violence would have difficulty coaching their children with the regulation of fear, as they may find it difficult to manage their own fear. Similarly, parent perpetrators of domestic violence would have difficulty coaching their children in anger management, as they have difficulty managing their own anger.
Finally, researchers assessed whether parental emotion coaching moderated the relationship between children’s exposure to domestic violence and subsequent child behavior problems. Based on previous research in parental meta-emotion philosophy, they hypothesized that poor parental emotion coaching would result in a strong relationship between exposure to domestic violence and child behavior problems. Alternatively, effective parental emotion coaching would result in a weak or perhaps nonexistent relationship between exposure to domestic violence and child behavior problems.
A community-based sample of 130 nuclear families with pre-school aged (4-5 year-old) children was recruited for this study. Each parent was administered a meta-emotion interview, in addition to completing selected self-report measures of domestic violence, marital satisfaction, children’s behavior problems, and family income.