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Children's awareness concerning emotion regulation strategies: Effects of attachment status

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Social Development

Published online on


The current study evaluated the effects of preschoolers' attachment status on their awareness concerning emotion regulation strategies. A total of 212 children between 3 and 5 years participated in this study and completed two self‐report tasks. The first was the Attachment Story Completion Task (ASCT), which assessed children's internal working models concerning parent–child attachment; the second evaluated children's ability to generate emotion regulation strategies in relation to three negative emotions (anger, sadness, and fear). Statistical analyses involved a mixed models multilinear regression approach controlling for age and gender. The results consistently revealed that the insecure avoidant group was significantly less likely than securely attached children to generate both comforting and self‐regulatory strategies. Surprisingly, the insecure ambivalent group showed no deficits across measured outcomes. When the analyses were conducted separately for each negative emotion, findings for co‐regulatory strategies for fear, and self‐regulatory strategies for anger also suggested that avoidantly attached children exhibited the lowest levels of awareness compared with children from the secure attachment group. These findings stress the importance of children's attachment status, and implicitly, the quality of the parent–child interactions for children's awareness of emotion regulation strategies related to negative emotions.