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Keywords:

  • psychosomatic problems;
  • longitudinal prediction;
  • middle childhood;
  • negative emotionality;
  • attachment;
  • parental perceived control

Abstract

Development of the psychosomatic problems picky eating and headache and stomachache complaints in middle childhood was investigated from an emotion regulation perspective. The role of negative emotionality and family emotion regulatory factors (attachment to mother and parental perceived control) was studied. The sample (N=87) was a predominantly middleclass, community sample. The study was longitudinal, based on data from several data collections between child age 11 months and 9 years. The results showed that headache and stomachache complaints were mainly predicted by early negative emotionality, and picky eating by the family factors. More negative emotionality, insecure attachment and less perceived control were related to more psychosomatic problems in linear and interaction models. The findings were interpreted as showing that by considering emotion regulation, a fruitful perspective for understanding the development of psychosomatic problems could be elaborated. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.