Early Family Relationships Predict Children’s Emotion Regulation and Defense Mechanisms
Lindblom, Jallu; Punamäki, Raija-Leena; Flykt, Marjo; Vänskä, Mervi; Nummi, Tapio; Sinkkonen, Jari; Tiitinen, Aila; Tulppala, Maija (2016)
Sage Open 6 4
Yhteiskunta- ja kulttuuritieteiden yksikkö - School of Social Sciences and Humanities
CC BY 3.0
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
Early family relationships have been suggested to influence the development of children’s affect regulation, involving both emotion regulation and defense mechanisms. However, we lack research on the specific family predictors for these two forms of affect regulation, which have been conceptualized to differ in their functions and accessibility to consciousness. Accordingly, we examine how the (a) quality and (b) timing of family relationships during infancy predict child’s later emotion regulation and defense mechanisms. Parents (N = 703) reported autonomy and intimacy in marital and parenting relationships at the child’s ages of 2 and 12 months, and the child’s use of emotion regulation and immature and neurotic defenses at 7 to 8 years. As hypothesized, the results showed that functional early family relationships predicted children’s efficient emotion regulation, whereas dysfunctional relationships predicted reliance on defense mechanisms in middle childhood. Further, results showed a timing effect for neurotic defenses, partially confirming our hypothesis of early infancy being an especially important period for the development of defense mechanisms. The findings are discussed from the viewpoints of attachment and family dynamics, emotional self-awareness, and sense of security.
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