Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Dr. Stacey Doan

Reader 2

Dr. Tessa Solomon-Lane

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© 2022 Mayela Norwood


In the early years of life, the development of children’s executive functioning (EF) and behavior regulation are critical to their later growth and self-sufficiency. Previous studies have indicated that one pathway by which children learn to regulate their emotions is through their immediate social environments (de Cock et al., 2017). Parents, in particular, play a significant role in the development of their children‘s emotion regulation and executive functioning (Fernandes et al., 2022). At the same time, physiological responses to stress also matter. Cortisol, the end product of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, has also been associated with children’s executive functioning and behavior regulation, such that higher cortisol is associated with poorer executive functioning in children (Wagner et al., 2016). In addition, stress also leads to higher levels of behavioral problems (Dettling et al., 1999). However, the extent to which social and biological factors interact is poorly understood. Therefore, this study aims to explore further the relations among maternal emotion socialization, children’s physiological response to stress, and children’s executive functioning and behavior. Mothers completed the Coping with Children’s Negative Emotions Scale to assess their response to their children’s negative emotions and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version (BRIEF-P) and Child Behavior Checklist on their children’s EF and behavior. Children also completed performance-based tasks on their executive functioning. Results suggest a main effect of maternal emotion socialization on children’s EF (B = 12.91, SE = 3.12, p < .001) and internalizing behavior (B = 3.52, SE = .584, p < .001) and externalizing behavior (B = 6.74, SE = 1.30, p < .001). Specifically, higher levels of unsupportive socialization were associated with increases in EF problems as assessed via the BRIEF-P and increased behavioral problems. However, there was no main effect of cortisol and no significant interaction between parenting and cortisol. These findings support existing research that maternal emotion socialization influences the development of executive functioning and child behavior regulation with implications for intervention research.