Coregulating distress: Mother-child interactions around children's distress from 14 to 24 months

The current study complements existing research about emotion regulation by using a naturalistic, longitudinal design to (a) explore interpersonal dimensions of emotion regulation during unstructured mother-child interaction around distress and (b) explore how these interactions influence children's emerging emotion regulation from 14 to 24 months. Fifty Latino families were visited in their homes at both 14 and 24 months. Thirty minutes of unstructured interaction were videotaped and coded. Emotionally challenging episodes were identified based on ratings of the children's distress vocalisations. Within each episode, mothers' and children's behaviour were rated for interpersonal characteristics of their behaviour toward each other and the roles that each played in episode resolutions. On average, mother-child interaction was well coordinated across both ages. The degree to which children communicated about their distress clearly at 24 months was related to earlier maternal behaviour whereas the match between the intensity of children's emotion signals and the context was related to concurrent maternal behaviour (at both 14 and 24 months).