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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Schudlich, Tina Dawn Du Rocher

Second Advisor

Goodvin, Rebecca

Third Advisor

Lehman, Barbara J.


Emotion understanding is a necessary ability for young children to develop, as this competence helps children navigate their social world. Parents offer a rich environment for children to learn about emotion, but to date little is known about how interparental conflict relates to children's growing emotion understanding. From a family systems perspective, it is important to consider not only how conflict behaviors may be connected with children' emotion understanding directly, but also indirectly through changes in parenting behaviors. In this study interparental conflict tactics and related parenting behaviors of both mothers and fathers were examined in relation to children's emotion understanding. At Time 1, seventy-four families participated and parents' conflict and parenting behaviors were observed with their infants present. Thirty families returned when children were of the preschool age and children's emotion understanding was assessed. Significant associations emerged for fathers', but not mothers', conflict styles in relation to children's emotion understanding. Contrary to expectations, fathers' use of constructive conflict was negatively associated with children's emotion understanding, whereas fathers' use of depressive conflict was related to higher levels of children's emotion understanding. Implications for how these processes relate to children's emotion understanding in the broader context of the family emotional climate and children's developmental level are discussed.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Emotions in children; Marital conflict--Psychological aspects; Parental influences--Psychological aspects; Parent and child; Emotional intelligence




masters theses




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