The Protective Effects of Parent-Child Emotion Dialogues for Preschoolers Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

Renee Lamoreau, Elsa Obus, Nina Koren-Karie, Sarah A.O. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) during early childhood is associated with self-regulation difficulties. Caregivers can facilitate children’s self-regulation through emotion-focused conversations about past experiences, buffering downstream effects. However, caregivers experiencing violence may avoid distressing emotions activated by such conversations. This paper explores two different models of relational stress responses, one involving indirect effects (i.e. spillover effects) and the other moderation (i.e. buffering effects). Mothers (n = 117), oversampled for violence exposure, self-reported on IPV and participated in an emotional reminiscing task with children (aged 3–5 years); narratives were coded for maternal sensitive guidance. Maternal sensitive guidance was related to children’s self-regulation. Sensitive guidance did not have indirect effects in the association between IPV exposure and children’s self-regulation, but did buffer the association between physical IPV and self-regulation; this pattern did not hold for psychological IPV. Results suggest sensitive guidance during reminiscing may promote self-regulation in contexts of high IPV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-639
Number of pages27
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Intimate partner violence
  • domestic violence
  • early childhood
  • parenting
  • self-regulation
  • sensitive guidance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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