The prevalence and impact of child maltreatment make the scientific investigation of this phenomenon a matter of vital importance. Prior research has examined associations between problematic patterns of parents' emotion reactivity and regulation and child maltreatment and maltreatment risk. However, the strength and specificity of these relationships is not yet clear. To address this, we conducted a systematic literature search of four databases from inception through February 2021 to identify studies that reported these relationships. Our resulting meta-analysis of maltreatment involved parents of children who are up to 18 years of age (k = 46, encompassing 6669 parents). Our focus was the magnitude of the difference in levels of emotion reactivity and regulation between parents who maltreat or are at risk of maltreating and parents who do not maltreat their children or are not at risk of maltreating their children. As expected, results from meta-analyses using robust variance estimation indicated significantly higher problems with reactivity and regulation in maltreating parents / parents at risk (r = 0.40, k = 140; 95% CI [0.34, 0.45]), indicating that maltreating / at risk parents were more likely to have overall worse measures of reactivity and regulation. In comparison to non-maltreating parents, maltreating / at risk parents experience more negative emotions, display more negative emotion behavior, and are more dysregulated. These effects were fairly stable with little to no remaining heterogeneity. The current review concludes with a theoretical framework outlining the role of emotion reactivity and regulation in multiple risk factors of maltreatment, aiming to guide future study in this area.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by the Haruv Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship and by the Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship awarded to the first author.
This research was supported in part by the Haruv Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship , by the Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship, and by the University of Haifa Start-up Grant awarded to the first author.
- Child maltreatment
- Emotion regulation
- Parent-child relationship
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health