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Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Denham SA, Zinsser K, Bailey CS
Emotional Intelligence in the First Five Years of Life
George Mason University, USA
(Published online September 30, 2011)
The construct of emotional intelligence (EI) refers to a distinct group of mental abilities,
in which individuals 1) perceive, appraise and express emotions; 2) use emotions to
facilitate thinking; 3) understand the antecedents and consequences of emotions; and 4)
regulate emotions in self and others.1,2 These abilities dovetail well with what has been
termed, in the developmental psychology literature, as “emotional competence” (EC).3,4,5
Because of the developmental emphasis in the EC literature, this is the term we use here.
Young children’s EC – expression of useful emotions, knowledge of emotions of self and
others, and regulation of their own and others’ emotional expressiveness and experience
when necessary contributes to their social and pre-academic adjustment, both
concurrently and across time.6-8
Because of the link with social and pre-academic success, there is considerable interest in
the topic of early childhood EC; its relevance to policy-makers and service-providers in
child care, early childhood education and mental health is becoming clear. There are three
main components of EC, with specific attainments during the early childhood period:9
Expression: Young children become able to use emotional communication to express
clear nonverbal messages about social situations and relationships (e.g., stamping feet,
giving a hug). They also develop empathic involvement in others’ emotions (e.g., patting
a classmate in pain). Further, they display complex social and self-conscious emotions,
such as guilt, pride, shame and contempt, in appropriate contexts.
Knowledge: Young children’s abilities to accurately identify and label their own and
others’ emotions, especially the discrete emotions of happiness, sadness, anger and fear,
are emerging. Particularly via the use of methods embedded within play, they can
identify the causes and consequences of these emotions, and they show budding
awareness of complex, individualized causes for emotions.10
Regulation: Young children begin to regulate emotions in productive ways showing
awareness of their feelings, monitoring them and modifying them when necessary, so that
emotions aid, rather than impede, coping in varying situations. Although young children
begin to understand which regulation strategies are most useful, they still often need adult
assistance in these efforts.
The interrelationships of these aspects of EC must be underscored. Emotion knowledge
undoubtedly plays an important role in children’s ability to regulate emotion; when a
child knows, for example, that her playmate is delighted to heave her tricycle upright
after a long struggle, she is no longer distressed herself, trying to discern what to do with
an angry friend. Further, her emotion knowledge may assist her own adaptive, regulated
emotion expression if she understands what makes her (and others) sad, and with what
intensity, she may be able to show sadness at falling off playground equipment in a way
that elicits help without overwhelming her. Because of the intricate inter-workings of the
components of EC, it is no surprise that preschool deficits in both emotion knowledge
and under-regulated expression of anger predicted difficulties with teachers and peers in
kindergarten.11 For example, preschoolers with deficits in understanding emotions have
been found to show aggression or peer problems, both concurrently and
predictably.7(p249),12,13 Moreover, aspects of early childhood EC, separately and as an
interrelated group, predict young children’s early school success.14-16
Research Context
The context of research into EC varies throughout development. The study of infant
emotion has relied predominantly on external signs of experienced emotions such as
facial expressions, gestures and vocalizations. As children leave infancy, researchers use
both naturalistic observations and direct assessment procedures in a variety of settings, to
better capture children’s expression and experience, understanding, and regulation of
emotions. Procedures to assess children’s EC sometimes use purposefully frustrating
situations with and without adult scaffolding to understand children’s regulation of
emotions. Children’s responses to direct questions, often within ecologically valid play
procedures, show their understanding of self and others’ feelings in differing situations,
as well as causes and consequences of emotions, and children’s differentiation between
their own and others’ perspectives. Observational and self-report methods are used to
examine adults’ socialization of children’s EC.
Key Research Questions and Recent Findings
1. How is EC related to young children’s successful negotiations of other
important developmental tasks?
a) EC is related to young children’s success in relationships. Young children
must learn to send and receive emotional messages using their knowledge
about emotions and their abilities to regulate emotions, so that they may
successfully negotiate interpersonal exchanges, form relationships and
maintain curiosity about and enthusiasm for their world.17 When they do
so, they have more satisfying, successful relationships with others,
especially in the new peer arena.18
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Denham SA, Zinsser K, Bailey CS
b) EC is related to young children’s early school success. Emotions are
ubiquitous in the early childhood classroom; as young students learn
alongside and in collaboration with teachers and peers, they must utilize
their emotions to facilitate learning. Children’s abilities to understand
emotions of self and other, regulate emotion, and express healthy emotions,
all work together to grease the cogs of a successful school experience.6(p653)
2. How do parents promote children’s EC?
By modeling various emotions, moderately expressive parents give children
information about the nature of emotions their expression, likely eliciting
situations, and more personalized causes. Living in a particular “affective
climate” promotes children’s experience and expression of specific emotions.19 A
positive affective climate promotes positive emotional and social outcomes in
children.20-24 Conversely, where families display more negative emotion, children
fare worse with peers.25 Parents’ reactions to young children’s emotions and their
direct instruction about emotions are also important socialization tools that
support the development of EC.26
3. What else can we do to promote children’s EC?
There are opportunities to promote young children’s EC within child care and
early childhood education settings.27 For example, the Preschool PATHS program
teaches children about emotion expression, knowledge, and regulation.28,29
Additional programs have been created specifically for use in Head Start
classrooms to help young children use EC effectively.30,31 Parent programming
also exists.32,33
Research Gaps
Much basic research work is left to be done, particularly in examining how the
components of EC work together. Research also needs to situate EC abilities within the
“whole child,” viewing how EC interacts with other domains of development, both
concurrently and predictably.
Further, despite accumulated findings on parental socialization, and early childhood
research that shows that teachers are engaging in emotion socialization behaviours, we
know little about how teachers (or, for that matter, peers or siblings) socialize children’s
EC.34 Research is also needed to discern possible indirect contributors to EC, such as
parental psychopathology, divorce, poverty and child care quality. Moreover, our state of
knowledge is ripe for increased exploration of applied topics, such as evidence-based
programming. Finally, even more excellent assessment tools are needed in order to track
EC promotion in young children.34
In sum, emotional competence is a developmentally-evolving construct that encompasses
children’s abilities to appropriately express, interpret and regulate their emotions, as well
as to understand the emotions of others. Understanding the interrelationships between
these facets of EC, as well as how EC is socialized, is crucial in understanding the
emotional experience of children, and why some children have higher scores than others
on measures of EC. Extant findings suggest that 1) EC is related to young children’s
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Denham SA, Zinsser K, Bailey CS
success in relationships; 2) EC is related to young children’s early success in school; 3)
parents model emotional expression and regulation and structure environments that
promote attaining EC; and 4) parent socialization of emotion is not the only mechanism
by which children’s EC is socialized. Understanding and promoting EC in the home is
emerging as vital, but research has yet to fully explore how teachers and the school
context contribute to children’s EC.
Implications for Parents, Services and Policy
Gaps in researchers’, educators’ and policy makers’ understanding and valuing of early
childhood EC must be bridged. To provide the optimal learning environment for every
student, teachers should be trained in programming and assessment tools that not only
assess but also assist in forming interventions that promote social-emotional learning
(SEL) abilities. Parents should likewise be supported in their roles as socializers of EC.
Educational standards, including evidence-based assessment and programming, are also
sorely needed. Policy initiatives that encourage teacher awareness of SEL abilities will
not only foster a more harmonious classroom environment, but will also help form a
stable social-emotional foundation that the child will use across social and learning
contexts. One such legislative initiative, the Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning
Act, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009. Such policies can help
establish programs and allocate funds to create technical assistance and training centers,
provide grants to support evidence-based SEL programming, and conduct a national
evaluation of school-based SEL programming.
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Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Denham SA, Zinsser K, Bailey CS
Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
Denham SA, Zinsser K, Bailey CS
To cite this document:
Denham SA, Zinsser K, Bailey CS. Emotional intelligence in the first five years of life. Lewis M, topic ed.
In: Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Peters RDeV, eds. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online].
Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development and Strategic Knowledge
Cluster on Early Child Development; 2011:1-7. Available at: http://www.child- Accessed [insert date].
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... Bereits im Säuglingsalter beginnt die Entwicklung der Fähigkeit, die Gefühle und den Gefühlsausdruck anderer zu verstehen und über Gefühle zu kommunizieren. Diese Fähigkeit stellt einen entscheidenden Schritt beim Erwerb der emotionalen Kompetenz dar (Denham, Zinsser & Bailey, 2011). Sie gilt als Ressource, die Kinder dabei unterstützt, zukünftige Herausforderungen in verschiedenen Entwicklungsbereichen bewältigen zu können. ...
... Emotionale Kompetenz bringt eine Reihe von Vorteilen für die Kinder mit sich: Verfügen Erstklässler über emotionsspezifisches Wissen und können sie die Gefühle ihres Umfeldes richtig einordnen, so werden sie von Gleichaltrigen und Lehrern positiver beurteilt (Ensor & Hughes, 2005). Es besteht ein enger Zusammenhang zwischen der emotionalen Kompetenz von Kindern und ihrer sozialen und schulischen Entwicklung (Denham et al., 2011). Haben die Kinder hingegen Schwierigkeiten, Emotionen zu interpretieren, kann der Klassenraum zu einem sehr verwirrenden Ort werden und das Risiko, dass das Kind mit aggressivem Verhalten reagiert, steigt (Denham et al., 2002). ...
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Die eigenen Gefühle zu erkennen, sie mittels Mimik, Haltung oder Sprache auszudrücken und schließlich zu regulieren sowie die Emotionen anderer Personen zu erkennen und zu verstehen, gehört zu den zentralen Entwicklungsaufgaben der frühen und mittleren Kindheit (Gust & Petermann, 2017). Dazu gehören insbesondere • die Fähigkeit, die eigenen Gefühle und die anderer Personen zu erkennen und zu benennen, • mögliche Ursachen für Emotionen zu verstehen und Empathie für andere zu entwickeln, • Lösungen zu finden, um mit eigenen Emotionen und den Emotionen anderer sozial kompetent umzugehen und die eigenen effektiv zu regulieren und dadurch • prosoziales Verhalten zu entwickeln. Die Kinder erhalten hier die Möglichkeit, spielerisch Empfindungs-, Denk-und Verhaltensmuster zu erproben und werden animiert, diese in ihrem Alltag umzusetzen.
... Kumpulan kecakapan ini kemudian dikelompokan ke lima ranah yaitu a) ranah intrapersonal, ranah ini terdiri dari kesadaran emosi diri (emotional self awareness), sikap asertif, penghargaan diri atau self regard, aktualisasi diri, dan kemandirian, b) ranah interpersonal terdiri dari empati,tanggung jawab sosial, dan hubungan antar pribadi, c) ranah penyesuaian diri terdiri dari uji realitas dan sikap fleksibel, d) ranah penanganan stress terdiri dari ketahanan menanggung stress dan pengendalian impuls, dan e) ranah suasana hati umum terdiri dari kebahagiaan dan optimisme. 4. Susanne, Katherine dan Craig Konstruk kecerdasan emosional menurut Susanne mengacu pada sekelompok kemampuan mental yang berbeda antar individu dalam a) memahami, menilai dan mengekspresikan emosi, b) menggunakan emosi untuk memfasilitasi berfikir 3) memahami konsekuensi dari emosi dan 4) regulasi emosi pada diri sendiri dan orang lain (Denham et al., 2011). ...
Kecerdasan emosional merupakan salah satu kecerdasan yang dijadikan ukuran seseorang mencapai keberhasilan dalam hidupnya. Seseorang dengan kecerdasan emosional yang baik akan mampu mengekspresikan emosi, memahami, menggunakannya serta mengelola emosi. Pentingnya perhatian kecerdasan emosional pada anak usia dini belum diimbangi dengan ketersediaan instrument kecerdasan emosional terutama untuk anak usia 5–6 tahun. Oleh karena itu, penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengkonstruk dimensi kecerdasan emosional pada anak usia 5-6 tahun sebagai langkah awal dalam pengembangan instrument kecerdasan emosional anak usia 5-6 tahun. Metode penelitian yang digunakan yaitu literatur review dengan menggunakan 30 artikel yang kemudian direduksi sesuai dengan kebutuhan pertanyaan penelitian. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan adanya tiga dimensi kecerdasan emosional 1) pengetahuan emosi (emotional knowledge), 2) ekspresi emosi (emotional expression) dan 3) regulasi emosi (emotional regulation). Setiap dimensi terdiri dari tiga indikator dan lima sub indikator kecerdasan emosional yang dapat digunakan sebagai landasan untuk menilai tingkat kecerdasan emosional pada anak usia 5-6 tahun.
... On the contrary, deficits in social-emotional competence have been associated with childhood psychopathology [6], risk of academic failure [7], delinquent behavior and/or substance addiction in late adolescence [8]. Social-emotional competence involves skills that fall under both the emotional domain, such as the ability to understand their own and others' emotions and to regulate and to express them appropriately [9], and the social domain, such as the ability to achieve personal goals in interactions with others while simultaneously maintaining positive social relationships in different situations and over time [10,11]. Consequently, the elements of social-emotional competence are important contributors to a child's successful and effective interaction, allowing her/him to engage in sustained and positive interactions with peers, marked by favorable and regulated emotions [2]. ...
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Previous research reported that positive parenting and parenting stress might impact children’s psychosocial adjustment. The current longitudinal study aimed at evaluating the associations over time between mothers’ positive parenting, their parenting stress, and their preschoolers’ social–emotional competence and emotional–behavioral difficulties. Participants were 53 Italian mothers, aged between 24 and 47 years (M = 35.30, SD = 5.28) at T0, and their children (females = 51%), aged between 3 and 6 years (M = 4.48, SD = 0.84) at T0. Mothers completed self-report scales at 2 time points (with a 2-year lag). An autoregressive cross-lagged model was tested that had a good fit to the data, χ2(6) = 3.37 ns, CFI = 1.00, RMSEA = 0.00. The results showed that maternal positive parenting at T0 negatively predicted maternal parenting stress at T1; maternal parenting stress at T0 negatively predicted children’s social–emotional competence at T1. Moreover, at each time point, children’s social–emotional competence was associated positively with maternal positive parenting and negatively with maternal parenting stress; children’s emotional–behavioral difficulties were positively associated with maternal parenting stress. The results confirm that interactions with mothers are fundamental for children’s psychosocial adjustment. Implications for research and practice aimed at reducing parenting stress and fostering positive parenting are discussed.
... Social-emotional competence includes skills that fall into both the emotional domain, such as the ability to understand their own and others' emotions, to regulate them and to express them appropriately (Denham et al., 2011). The social domain, such as the ability to achieve personal goals in interaction with others while simultaneously maintaining positive relationships over time and across situations (Fabes et al., 2006;Rubin & Rose-Krasnor, 1992). ...
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Background: The present study examined the relations between maternal parenting stress and preschoolers' psychosocial adjustment, using both a variable-centred and a person-centred approach. Methods: The study had three main purposes: (a) evaluating the associations of maternal parenting stress with children's social-emotional competence and behavioural difficulties, as perceived by their mothers; (b) inquiring the existence of different children's clusters based on their level of social-emotional competence and behavioural difficulties; (c) exploring differences in maternal parenting stress linked to cluster membership. Participants were 91 Italian mothers, aged from 22 to 47 years old (M = 35.14, SD = 5.80), having a preschool child from 3 to 6 years old (M = 4.6, SD = 0.80). Results: Overall, results showed that maternal parenting stress was negatively associated with children's social-emotional competence, and positively associated with their behavioural difficulties. A cluster analysis allowed identifying four children's profiles characterized by different levels of social-emotional competence and behavioural difficulties: Maladjusted, Troubled, Adjusted and Controversial. Conclusions: Results also evidenced differences among clusters in maternal parenting stress. Ultimately, this study suggests that interventions may consider reducing maternal parenting stress to promote children's psychosocial adjustment.
... Emotional intelligence (EQ) was first discovered and proposed by Salovey and Mayer (1990) in [2]. The EQ construct refers to a group of different mental abilities, where individuals 1) perceive, assess and express emotions, 2) use emotions to facilitate thinking, 3) understand antecedents and emotional consequences and manage emotions in themselves and others [3]. The explanation above can be concluded that EQ has three IOP Publishing doi: 10.1088/1742-6596/1823/1/012053 2 main domains, namely emotional expression, emotional knowledge and emotion regulation. ...
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This research aims to discover a learning model that can improve the emotional intelligence of children aged 5-6 years. The alternative taken to achieve this goal is by developing a pitutur luhur learning model based on multi-representation that focuses on the development of the emotional intelligence of children aged 5-6 years. The development of this learning model is based on the lack of learning models to improve children’s emotional intelligence, especially those related to local culture. The research method used adopted the research and development procedure of Borg & Gall with the research stage; 1) preliminary study, 2) model development, 3) model validation and revision and 4) model implementation. Data needs for the model were obtained through questionnaires and group discussions. The questionnaire was filled out by 30 kindergarten teachers in Bantul Regency, Yogyakarta. Data collection techniques using questionnaires and emotional intelligence tests of children aged 5-6 years. Test the effectiveness of the model using the pretest-posttest control group design experimental method. The results of the research showed that The pitutur luhur learning model based on the multi representation could improve the emotional intelligence of children aged 5-6 years.
... Emotional intelligence (EQ) pertama kali ditemukan dan diusulkan oleh Salovey and Mayer (1990) dalam (Devis, 2017). Konstruk EQ mengacu pada kelompok kemampuan mental yang berbeda, dimana individu 1)mempersepsikan, menilai dan mengekspresikan emosi, 2)menggunakan emosi untuk memfasilitasi pemikiran, 3)memahami anteseden dan konsekuensi emosi serta mengelola emosi dalam diri dan orang lain (Denham, Zinsser, & Bailey, 2011). Penjelasan di atas dapat disimpulkan bahwa EQ memiliki tiga domain utama yaitu ekspresi emosi, pengetahuan emosi dan regulasi emosi. ...
... The procedure to assess the EC children sometimes uses the situation that made the frustration with specific meaning with or without the help of an adult to understand the regulation of the emotions of the children. Children response on the questions directly, often in the play that have valid procedures, shows that they understand themselves and the feelings of others in a different situation, causes and consequences of emotion, as well as the difference between the children from the perspective of themselves and others (Denham, Zinsser, Bailey: 2011). From this discovery means the son can empathize and express emotion, but children need to learn how to manage the emotions that can express emotions that felt with precise and productive. ...
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This article examines and discusses (1) the concept of emotional literacy, (2) the concept of the child and his emotions, (3) the metaphor of windows and mirrors in a cooperative game, (4) metaphor window and mirror technique in cooperative games for develop emotional literacy on children. Emotional literacy means the ability to recognize, understand, and realize the emotional self, labeling emotions felt, expressing emotions and situations experienced by way of an appropriate and proper emotional management. Using the metaphor of the window and the mirror technique, students can understand his emotions as well as others. Cooperative games used to stimulate emotions and express and reflect the positive emotions that exist in children.
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This paper examines the development of emotional intelligence (EI) in childhood. It is proposed that ambiguities in conceptualizing EI may be resolved by distinguishing multiple levels of emotion‐regulation processes. Temperament, rule‐based skill acquisition, and self‐aware emotion regulation are differentiat‐ed as potential sources of individual differences. We review empirical studies that demonstrate multiple mechanisms linked to these levels. Temperament is shaped by genes, interacting with environmental influences such as patterns of infant‐caregiver interaction. Early, language‐dependent skill learning is governed by reinforcement and modeling processes. Subsequent, insightful learning is influenced by emotional discourse with parents and others, and cultural factors. Cognitive abilities may also influence individual differences in emotional function. At the same time, the biological and sociocultural factors that influence EI interact in complex and interrelated ways. We conclude this article by proposing a tentative ‘investment model’ for emotional competencies in children that accommodates the multifaceted nature of EI. Lower‐level competencies may provide a platform for developing more sophisticated emotion‐regulation skills, with competencies becoming increasingly differentiated over time.
This short-term longitudinal study examined whether emotion regulation and emotion understanding made unique contributions towards at-risk preschoolers' classroom adaptation. To address this question, we assessed children's emotion regulation and their understanding of emotions in both self (self-awareness, emotion coping) and in others (emotion recognition, affective perspective taking, situation knowledge). Participants were 49 children (22 boys and 27 girls) who attended a Head Start program for low-income children. Seventy percent of this sample was Caucasian, with the remainder being of Latino, African American or biracial ethnicity. Emotion regulation at the start of the school year was associated with school adjustment at year's end, whereas early emotional lability/negativity predicted poorer outcomes. Children who made a smooth adjustment to preschool also were better able to take another person's affective perspective and to identify situations that would provoke different emotional responses. Emotion regulation and understanding made unique contributions towards school adjustment, even when controlling for potential confounds, including behavior problems and verbal abilities. Teachers appeared to influence children's emotional competence by serving an important regulatory function, especially for older preschoolers at-risk.
The core processes of emotion understanding, emotion control, cognitive understanding, and cognitive control and their association with early indicators of social and academic success were examined in a sample of 141 3-year-old children. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the hypothesized four-factor model of emotion and cognition in early childhood. A subsequent structural model indicated that emotion understanding processes were significantly positively associated with early indicators of academic success, while emotion control processes were inversely related to socioemotional problems. These results point to the utility of an integrated model of emotion and cognition in early development and offer support for the differentiation of understanding and control processes within these developmental arenas as a framework for future study.
Summarizes research on the contribution of young children's emotional competence to their school readiness. Describes ways early childhood teachers can support young children's emotional competence by creating a secure emotional environment, helping children understand emotions, modeling genuine appropriate emotions, supporting children's emotion regulation, recognizing and honoring children's expressive styles, and uniting learning with positive emotions. Lists ways early childhood professionals can advocate for children's emotional needs. (KB)
This observational study examined practices through which child care teachers socialize children's emotion. A specific aim was to describe strategies of teacher intervention in response to emotion displayed by children in child care centers, and to answer the question of differential interactions based on children's age and gender. The results of this study were as follows: (a) toddler teachers matched and encouraged children's positive emotion expression more often than did preschool teachers; (b) in response to children's negative emotion, toddler teachers used physical comfort and distraction more often than did preschool teachers who relied more on verbal mediation; (c) in response to girls' negative emotional expressions, teachers provided more physical comfort and distraction whereas they were more likely to provide boys with constructive ways to express negative emotion. The results of this study also revealed relatively infrequent teaching about constructive ways of expressing negative emotion and very few occurrences of teacher's empathy, two developmentally appropriate methods for socializing emotion. Teachers may benefit from a training program focusing on facilitating emotional competence.
This study examined the linkage between low-income mothers' conversations about emotions and their children's understanding of emotion. Forty-five low-income preschoolers and their mothers were videotaped while viewing a wordless picture book designed to elicit talk about emotions. Three maternal and child emotional language behaviors were coded from the videotapes: (a) unelaborated comments about emotions; (b) explanations about the causes and consequences of emotions; and (c) empathy-related statements. The children's questions about emotions were also coded. In a separate interview, the preschoolers were administered tasks that assessed emotional expression knowledge, emotional situation knowledge, and emotional role-taking. The results revealed that emotional situation knowledge was positively predicted by mothers' empathy-related statements. Mothers' explanations about the causes and consequences of emotions were uniquely related to emotional role-taking ability. There were very few correlations between the mothers' and children's talk about emotions. Results are discussed in terms of the functional significance of mothers' emotional language for young children's emotional competence.
This study evaluated a new group parenting program, Tuning in to Kids, which taught emotion coaching skills to parents of preschool children. In a randomized control trial, 218 primary caregiver parents of children aged 4.0–5.11 years completed questionnaires assessing parent emotion socialization (emotion coaching vs. emotion dismissing), parent emotional competence, parent wellbeing and child behavior. Assessment occurred at preintervention and 10 weeks later. Parents randomized to the intervention condition (n=107) attended a 6-session parenting program. Results showed parents in the intervention condition reported significant increases in emotion coaching and significant reductions in emotion dismissing with their children. Child behavior was also reported to improve. Of those with clinical levels of behavior difficulties, more than half were no longer at clinical level postprogram. These findings suggest that an emotion-focused parenting intervention may assist parents to learn emotion-coaching skills that have been linked to improved child behavior. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.