Children with callous-unemotional (CU) traits manifest a range of deficits in their emotional functioning, and parents play a key role in socializing children's understanding, experience, expression, and regulation of emotions. However, research examining emotion-related parenting in families of children with CU traits is scarce. In two independent studies we examined emotion socialization styles in parents of children high on CU traits. In Study 1, we assessed parents' self-reported beliefs and feelings regarding their own and their child's emotions, in a sample of 111 clinic-referred and community children aged 7-12 years. In Study 2, we directly observed parents' responding to child emotion during an emotional reminiscing task, in a clinic sample of 59 conduct-problem children aged 3-9 years. Taken together, the results were consistent in suggesting that the mothers of children with higher levels of CU traits are more likely to have affective attitudes that are less accepting of emotion (Study 1), and emotion socialization practices that are more dismissing of child emotion (Study 2). Fathers' emotion socialization beliefs and practices were unrelated to levels of CU traits. Our findings provide initial evidence for a relationship between CU traits and parents' emotion socialization style, and have significant implications for the design of novel family-based interventions targeting CU traits and co-occurring conduct problems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health