The normative development of emotion regulation strategy use in children and adolescents: a 2-year follow-up study

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  • Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.

Abstract

Background:  Emotion regulation involves intrinsic and extrinsic processes responsible for managing one’s emotions toward goal accomplishment. Research on emotion regulation has predominantly focused on early developmental periods and the majority of emotion regulation research examining the pre-adult years has lacked a comprehensive theoretical framework. The current study examined the use of two strategies of emotion regulation during childhood and adolescents, as conceptualised within Gross’s (1998) process-oriented model.

Methods:  To determine the use, norms and development of the Expressive Suppression and Cognitive Reappraisal strategies, the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents (ERQ-CA) was administered to 1,128 participants aged between 9 and 15 years. Three data collection phases, each one year apart, enabled investigation of developmental patterns in the use of the two strategies.

Results:  As predicted, Suppression use was found to be lower for older participants compared to their younger peers, and over time participants reported less use of this strategy. Older participants also scored lower on Reappraisal but stability over time was found. Also as expected, males reported more Suppression use compared to females.

Conclusions:  By documenting the development and norms for Cognitive Reappraisal and Expressive Suppression in a community sample of children and adolescents, the current study makes a significant contribution to our understanding of these two ER strategies during these developmental periods.

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