The foster child development in regard of emotion regulation strategies

Pauline Simon Herrera, PhD student, Université Paris 8 – Université Paris Lumière, France 

Nathalie Duriez, Researcher, Université Paris 8 – Université Paris Lumière, France 

Alain Blanchet, Researcher Université Paris 8 – Université Paris Lumière, France      

The objective of our study is to understand how a child is building its Emotion Regulation (ER) strategies within the context of foster care. Preschool children learn ER strategies from infancy. Parental practice helps them understand, control and regulate their emotions in order to develop self-regulation by activating internal processes of regulation (Holodynski & Friedlmeier, 2005). Meanwhile, relationships with parents keep enhancing emotion understanding in social and interacting contexts.   We observed the interacting processes between a child aged 5 years old and his natural and foster parents in ecological conditions. Specific Emotion Regulation tasks such as free play, tidy task and teaching task, were addressed to the dyads and analysed regarding emotion expression and emotion regulation strategies (Blandon, Calkins & Keane, 2010). When the mother and the foster parent (in separated time) were providing an environment made of positive emotion expression and symbolic cognitive reframing, the child could focus on the task in a positive emotional ambiance made of sensitivity. On the contrary, the father was using instrumental strategies in order to conduct the task, satisfying the adult’s goal. The child was more distracted by her environment and showed self-stimulation and self-soothing strategies during the interaction with her father. Our results show differences among parenting styles and ER strategies in natural or foster parents’ influencing ER processes for the child. The capacity of the adult to control his emotional states seems to be essential to the development of adaptive strategies for the child, still adjusting to parental demands within the double binds.

References :

Blandon, A. Y., Calkins, S. D., & Keane, S. P. (2010). Predicting emotional and social competence during early childhood from toddler risk and maternal behavior. Dev Psychopathol., 22(1), 119-132.

Holodynski, M., & Friedlmeier, W. (2006).  Development of emotions and emotion regulation. New York: Springer.

Key-words: Emotion Regulation – Parenting Style – Ecological Research – Child Development

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