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Effect of Parental Intervention and Toddler Distress in Fear eliciting Situations

From an interview with Ted Tarkow, Professor of Classical Studies & Associate Dean of Arts & Science

Corie Geary, Psychological Sciences

Kristin Buss, Mentor

This study assessed the relation between parental behavior and toddlers’ coping in fear eliciting situations. Parental behaviors were categorized as either over-protective or controlling. Over-protective parents inhibited their children’s interactions with a fear-eliciting stimulus, whereas controlling parents insisted their children interact with the fear-eliciting stimulus even when their children were hesitant. The results revealed that children whose parents were over-protective showed an increase in distress (e.g., as measured by facial expression) after the parental intervention, whereas children whose parents were controlling showed a decrease in distress.