Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Cheryl B McNeil

Committee Co-Chair

Amy Gentzler

Committee Member

Elisa Krackow


The following study explored the relationship between emotion regulation in children with and without externalizing behavior problems and their caregivers. The study examined emotion regulation in both clinical and comparison samples. The main research question for the study was determining if there was a link between parent and child emotion regulation in both clinical and comparison samples. Sixty families were collected from two rural populations in the United States. Families referred for parent training with children ages 2 through 8 were recruited for a clinical sample (n = 34) along with a nonclinical comparison group (n = 26). A blocking design was used. The sample was largely Caucasian (73.3%), boys (71.7%), aged 4.62 years. Parents completed measures related to child behaviors, parenting stress, and child and parent emotion regulation at a single time point. Family behaviors were also coded during structured behavioral observations. Analyses indicated higher rates of problem behaviors in the clinical group, higher rates of parenting stress, higher levels of parental emotion dysregulation, and higher levels of child emotion dysregulation. Parents of children in the clinical sample also used more negative verbalizations with their children. Parent emotion regulation was found to be correlated with child emotion regulation, parenting stress, child behavior problems, and parental use of negative speech toward their child during play situations. Findings from this research indicate a need to target and measure outcomes for emotion regulation in both parents and their children when working with families who are referred for treatment of child behavior problems.