Honors Program

[Honors-in-Discipline (Choose below)], Honors in Psychology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Rachel Miller-Slough

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

John Parigger


Parents’ adverse childhood experiences in relation to parent-child emotion socialization

Objective: Parents have an integral role in a child’s development of important emotional and psychosocial processes through emotion socialization. The goal of this paper is to examine the presence of adverse childhood experiences during the parents’ childhood and adolescence alongside the parents’ responses to their child’s emotional expression. The impact of adverse childhood experiences on a parent’s ability to socialize their child’s emotions is a key factor in the continued objective of cultivating positive parent-child interaction and improving adolescent mental health.

Methods: Participants were 165 adolescents and their parents. Adolescent participants had an age range of13 to 17 years, (M=14.56, SD= 1.34) and were 33% female. Participants completed several standard questionnaires as part of a larger online survey. Adolescents reported on how their parents typically respond to their negative emotions (Emotions as Child Questionnaire; O’Neal & Magai, 2005), and their parents reported on their exposure to adverse childhood events (ACE’s questionnaire).

Results: Mediation analyses tested the study hypotheses regarding whether parent emotion dysregulation mediated the link between parent ACEs and parent emotion socialization responses (reward, punish). Covariates included parent and child gender, parent race, and parent education level. In the first model examining reward responses, there was an overall significant effect on parent reward and punishment responses. There was a significant indirect effect of parent ACEs on parent reward and parent punishment responses with parent emotion dysregulation as the mediator.

Conclusion: Together, these findings suggest the value and necessity of healthy and stable emotion regulation, especially in parents. The present study shows a need for the recognition of the impact that a parent's ability to successfully regulate their own emotions has on their ability to effectively respond to their children’s emotions. Additionally, stable parent child emotion socialization outcomes improve the child’s ability to self- regulate emotions which ultimately makes an insurmountable impact on children’s mental health throughout the lifespan.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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