Emotion Regulatory Strategies in Young Children: A Functional Perspective of Negative Emotions in a Frustrating Task

Open Access
Perri, Melissa Ann
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Pamela Cole, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeanette Cleveland, Honors Advisor
  • emotion regulation
  • anger
  • sadness
  • strategies
  • functional theory of emotion
  • negative emotion
  • toddlers
  • young children
Emotion regulation is a topic that has received much attention in the literature in recent decades, but gaps still exist in the literature. Particularly, the toddler population is relatively unstudied. The present research helps fill gaps in the research by looking at 114 typically developing 36-month-old children during a frustrating task, the Transparent Box task. According to a functional theory of emotions, the children’s emotions will likely predict the strategies they use to cope with the situation. Children who display anger will be more likely to pursue the goal of the task, while children who display sadness will be more likely to relinquish the goal. Furthermore, at high-intensity anger levels, this effect is likely to diminish. Results provided partial support for this theory, and implications for future research are examined.