Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Rena A. Hallam

Committee Members

Tara S. Wass, John G. Orne


Emotion regulation is the process by which individuals are able to manage emotional arousal, emotional display, and attention processes, as well as the ability to properly respond and express emotions to others. In toddlers, a deficit in emotion regulation is often displayed by exhibition of externalizing behaviors. This study examines the development of emotion regulation from infancy to two and a half years of age. The model proposed in this study examines heart rate variability in infancy, and child characteristics, self-regulation, and parent-child interaction style in toddlerhood as predictors of externalizing behavior in toddlers. Results from the study reveal that deficits in the self-regulatory system are the most important contributor in the development of externalizing behaviors in toddlers. However, the parent-child interaction style also played a significant role in that parents who rated themselves as being emotionally available, nurturing, not depressed, and claim mostly positive interactions with their child were less likely to have a toddler with externalizing behavior problems. However, a poor self-regulatory system, which included difficulty with sleeping and eating as well as sensory sensitivity and the expression of negative affect, accounted for 20% of the variance.

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