A systematic investigation has been lacking regarding children’s deliberate regulation of others’ emotions which is labeled interpersonal emotion regulation (ER). Based on a theoretically derived model of Interpersonal Affect Classification, we examined children’s interpersonal ER strategy use in the peer group. Participants were 398 fourth and fifth grade children from the Midwestern United States. Children rated themselves regarding their use of intrapersonal and interpersonal ER strategies as well as attention to friends’ emotions. Teacher-report and peer nominations were used to assess social competence regarding prosocial behavior and emotion sharing. Awareness of and attention to friends’ emotions were positively and more strongly associated with interpersonal ER than intrapersonal ER. Children reported affective engagement most strongly followed by humor, cognitive engagement, and attention to improve friends’ feelings. Among the four interpersonal ER strategies, only affective engagement was uniquely associated with social competence; intrapersonal ER was not associated with social competence. The findings support the significance of broadening the focus of ER to the interpersonal domain to promote the development of children’s ER and social competence.
- children' interpersonal emotion regulation
- emotion regulation
- emotion sharing
- interpersonal emotion regulation strategies
- prosocial behavior
- social competence