Low Parental Warmth and Chronic Negative Emotionality

Low parental warmth may have an enduring effect because it instills chronic negative emotional states. There is support for this idea. Hipwell and colleagues report that parental warmth at age 7 predicted depression in 12-year-old girls (Hipwell, Keenan, Kasza, Loeber, Stouthamer-Loeber, & Bean, 2008). Akse et al. (2004) found that for some girls and boys parental rejection led to depression which in turn was associated with aggression. Rohner (1986) emphasizes the detrimental effects of early rejection on self-esteem due to the fact that young children estimate their value based on parental love. Alfred Adler posited that aggression begins with feelings of inferiority and anxiety, occasioning the use of anger to “safeguard self-esteem” (Smith, Mullis, Kern, & Brack, 1999, p. 135).

Low Parental Warmth and Emotion Regulation

Returning to the links between parental warmth, the development of emotion regulation and behavioral control, and violent behavior, we point out subtle but important nuances to these interconnections. Regulation is developed, in part, through modeling. When parents model positive emotions, they help sooth children and teach children to self sooth. Hostility is likely to produce overarousal in children. Overarousal will cause difficulty focusing and shifting attention, which are needed for self-regulation (Eisenberg et al., 2005). Rohner (1986) predicted that rejected children would have difficulty governing the intense anger and hostility that they feel and would become adults who never learn to do so.

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