Emotion Socialization by Early Childhood Educators: Conceptual Models from Psychology

Katherine M. Kitzmann, Katianne M. Howard
page. 23~44 / 2011 Vol.5 No.1


Early childhood educators play an important role in helping children to understandand to express emotions. In this paper we highlight the small number of studies in theU.S. concerning the goals and strategies of early childhood educators with respect toemotion socialization, and provide personal observations of emotion socializationpractices in two preschools in Hong Kong (PRC) and Memphis (USA). We thenpropose a conceptual model that integrates LeVine’s work in cultural anthropologywith psychological research on emotion socialization. In this model, adults share auniversal goal that children develop emotional competence (i.e., skills for emotionexpression, knowledge, and regulation), and this goal is achieved through universalprocesses (namely, through adults’ responses to emotions, modeling, emotion conversations,and meta-emotion philosophies). However, these universal processes areenacted through practices that are culture-specific. This conceptual model provides auseful heuristic for examining early childhood educators’ emotion socialization practicesacross cultural contexts.

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