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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Academics & Research

Education professor receives grant for study on children’s emotions


Professor from College of Education wins over $1 million in grant for research study. | File Photo

Professor from the College of Education wins over $1 million in a  grant for research study. | File Photo

University of Houston College of Education professor received a grant to conduct a study on how different parenting styles affect a child’s behavior.

The grant of  $1.28 million was awarded in February 2019 when Julie Dunsmore was teaching at Virginia Tech, however, approximately $897,400 followed her to UH to continue the research here.

 “The grant examines parents’ emotion coaching with their children from the time children are three years old until they’re nine years old,” Dunsmore said.

“I’m excited about the possibility of learning when emotion coaching may have the most impact on children’s development and how children with different temperaments may benefit from parents coaching of different types of emotions.” Dunsmore added.

“This could make a meaningful difference in parent education and school programs to foster children’s development.” 

Dunsmore and her research team plan on looking at pre-recorded videos of parents working with their children to solve a problem. The goal is to watch how the children are affected by emotion coaching, according to a press release by the University.

“The grant examines emotion coaching, which is a parenting style involving awareness of children’s feelings and teaching children emotional skills,” Dunsmore said.

“Parents who emotion coach still have family rules about children’s behavior, however, they stay alert to their children’s feelings and take time to understand where their child is coming from when they need to correct their child’s behavior.”

This is related to children’s better emotional skills and lower behavior problems, said Dunsmore.

Dunsmore and her team code emotion coaching during trials for mothers and children to do together. These trials involve an Etch-a-Sketch, where mothers are given one knob to turn and children are given the other. 

“This works fine when they have to draw a square together, but it’s really hard when they have to draw a circle,” Dunsmore said.

“Seeing how mothers and children work together when they’re frustrated is a great way to get a sense of how emotion coaching might happen during daily challenges in families’ lives, such as trying to get children to do their homework while also getting dinner on the table.” 

The study is planned to be observed for about three years while working through videotapes from when children were three years old, four years old, six years old and nine years old, according to Dunsmore. 

“Emotion coaching has been around for quite a while,” Dunsmore said in the press release. “When parents take time to understand their child’s emotions, there are better outcomes: less depression, anxiety and ‘acting out’ or external behavioral problems.” 

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