Having received the task to analyze some psychological issue, I immediately thought of examination the reasons lying at the foundation of children’s emotional and psychological stability. In my personal persuasion this subject is of utmost importance in terms of finding out the origin of a human psycho type and emotion regulation. Moreover, the novelty and relevance of the subject gets more obvious in terms of the vague and pure examination of this area of academic knowledge. It is no denying that effective emotion regulation is an indispensable factor of a child’s auspicious and healthy psychological evolution. Nevertheless, etiologies and physiological underpinnings of emotion regulation stay a blurredly regulated area of psychology. All of the previously mentioned delivers justification of the subject matter chosen for this academic research.
The academic article concerning the polyvagal theory in its application to children’s emotion regulation was opted for as the theoretical basis for this academic speculation. Therefore, the polyvagal theory is definitely supposed to be the key item to dwell upon throughout the whole analysis. Such orientation is conditioned by the fact that the polyvagal theory provides a compound framework for figuring out the physiological grounds of children’s emotional regulation, encompassing the examination of dynamic parasympathetic control of cardiac activity to contribute to social engagement and defensive reaction of a child.
First of all let us outline the key results elicited within the research:
1. The influence of vagal tone in relation to a child’s emotional regulation was proved.
2. The immediate interrelation between the character of parental socialization and a child’s vagal tone was empirically indorsed. Let us analytically speculate upon the outcomes of the research.
1. Vagal tone as the key contributor to a child’s behavioral and emotional regulation.
2. Parental socialization in terms of children’s emotional regulation and behavior
Besides the in-depth investigation of the psychobiological and physiological bases of children’s emotional regulation, the impact of parental socialization was also paid considerable attention to as one of the key contributors to a child’s psycho state. The impact paid by the vocal tone in relation to one’s emotional expression is a common feature of all humans. However, the origin of stress vulnerability and reactivity and their derivation can be clearly traced back to the childhood of a human. Maternal socialization and the paternal one are supposed to be the contributory, structuring and at the same time intrusive factor influencing a child’s emotional regulation. The relation lying between the maternal influences upon a child’s adjustment can be easily observed upon animal studies, which transparently proved that the variation in socialization can influence autonomic regulation. The same concept was supposed to be transmitted upon humans (Berthoud & Neuhuber, 2000). Within the psychobiological realm, the extent of maternal and paternal socialization was assumed to affect a child’s vagal regulation, which is immediately interwoven with the child’s capability of interacting with the world surrounding it. In particular, mothers who keep interacting with their children on a relatively regular basis, have infants with higher vagal tone. Controversially, those infants who are periodically exposed to parental violence, proved to have lesser vagal tone. That is what makes us infer the direct interrelation between children’s emotional regulation and parental socialization.
Providing the correlation of the empirical results of the research in question with the theoretical material presented at our classes.
The concept of polyvagal has been thoroughly clarified at our psychology classes (Berthoud & Neuhuber, 2000). The theory conceives of the functional distribution between the two branches of vagus (vagal nerve or the tenth cranial nerve). Within the scope of our research the second branch of the nerve is of great interests. This is the second branch, which being more evolved, stands for communication and self-soothing behaviors (Hastings et al., 2008). This ensemble of the pathways is assumed to rule the emotional expression. The theory was originated by Dr. Stephen Porges, Director of the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and was considered a wide-scale breakthrough within the scope of psychobiology. Nowadays the polyvagal theory represents a vast amplification of concepts serving as the basis for far-reaching studying of stress, emotion, and social behavior. That is how the polyvagal theory favoring the assessment of human vagal tone has become a focal pillar in the evaluation of stress vulnerability and reactivity.
However, the acquaintance with the polyvagal theory in the course of our class proved limited to exclusively theoretical realm, omitting the practical side of it. The research surely contributed to the practical acknowledgement of the subject.
As far as the interrelation between the vagal tone and emotional regulation is concerned, it has always been open to a wide and extensive speculation among scientists. Basically, within the three investigations conducted on this score, the results delivered thereby were completely different. Particularly, some researchers stick to the point that children with higher internalizing problems are characterized by lower basal RSA or weaker vagal suppression (Hastings et al., 2008). However, another group of investigators fell short to indorse those conjectures. Those contradictable findings definitely call into question both the validity of the polyvagal theory and the utility of the attempts of putting it into practice.
The second inference to be dealt with is the interrelation between the parental socialization and children’s emotional regulation. In my consideration, there is no denying the validity of this theory. It is not that complicated and realization thereof can be observed in our real life.
Drawing a conclusion it would be reasonable to note the utility of the investigation conducted and the importance of the topic examined. However, there is a myriad of “white” holes within the realm of children’s psychology and the underpinnings of their emotion regulation.
Hastings, P., Nuselovici, J., Utendale, W., Coutya, J., McShane, K., & Sullivan, C. (2008). Applying the polyvagal theory to children's emotion regulation: Social context, socialization, and adjustment. Biological Psychology, 79(3), 299-306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.07.005
Berthoud, H., & Neuhuber, W. (2000). Functional and chemical anatomy of the afferent vagal system. Autonomic Neuroscience, 85(1-3), 1-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s1566-0702(00)00215-0