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date: 01 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Caregivers play a foundational role in the development of children’s emotion dysregulation. Yet, because there are a multitude of ways in which parent behavior can intersect with children’s emotions, the development of emotion dysregulation is complex. This chapter specifically examines the role of operant reinforcement, where the way in which caregivers respond contingently to their children’s expression of emotion influences child emotion dysregulation. It reviews (1) the central theoretical models that explicate the process by which parental responses to children’s emotions reinforce emotion dysregulation, (2) current evidence supporting these theories, and (3) interventions designed to reduce emotion dysregulation through operant reinforcement processes. It emphasizes that, in addition to unidirectional effects, operant reinforcement from a parent interacts with traits inherent to the child, and parents and children mutually influence one another in ways that highlight the transactional, dynamic processes underlying the development of emotion dysregulation. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

Keywords: emotion dysregulation, operant reinforcement, development, parent-child interactions, parental emotion socialization, coercion theory, invalidating environment

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