Attachment and Emotion in Middle Childhood and Adolescence

Kaela Stuart Parrigon, Kathryn A. Kerns, Mahsa Movahed Abtahi, Amanda Koehn


The purpose of this review is to summarize and evaluate the current state of the literature with regards to attachment and its relationship to emotion in middle childhood and adolescence. This is a relatively new topic of interest and one which is well grounded in theory. The attachment relationship between parents and children is a key mechanism by which children and adolescents learn emotion skills, including emotion understanding, coping strategies, and how to manage different affective experiences. The review is organized by emotion domain, including emotion understanding, affective experiences, physiological indicators of arousal and emotion, and processes for the regulation of emotion. We included studies which presented data for children and adolescents ages 6-18, and included measures of emotion and parent-child attachment. Although some areas have been investigated more than others, we found that secure attachment was related to more adaptive functioning in each of the emotion domains. Finally, we review future directions to be explored and address gaps in the current literature.


attachment; emotion; emotion understanding; affective experiences; physiological indicators; regulation of emotion; middle childhood; adolescence

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