Emotional awareness—that is, accurate emotional self-report—has been linked to positive well-being and mental health. However, it is still unclear how emotional awareness is socialized in young children. This observational study examined how a particular parenting communicative style—emotional validation versus emotional invalidation—was linked to children’s (age 4–7 years) emotional awareness. Emotional validation was defined as accurately and nonjudg-mentally referring to the emotion or the emotional perspective of the child. The relationship between maternal emotional validation/invalidation and children’s awareness of their negative emotions was examined in 65 mother–child pairs while playing a game. In a multiple regression, significant predictors of children’s emotional awareness were their mother’s degree of emotional validation, the child’s gender (girls more aware than boys), and their mother’s degree of invalidation (negative predictor). These results suggest that children’s accurate attention to their own emotion states—that is, their emotional awareness—may be shaped by their mother’s use of emotional validation/invalidation.


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pp. 129-157
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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