Difficulties in emotion regulation in child abuse potential: Gender differences in parents

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Background: The Social Information Processing model (SIP; Milner, 1993, 2000, 2003) suggests that emotion dysregulation can be a moderating factor in Child Abuse Potential (CAP), influencing the processes of perception, interpretation and attribution of child's behavior. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate comprehensively emotion dysregulation in CAP and to examine gender differences between fathers and mother at risk. Participants and setting: Participants were 186 mothers and 110 fathers of Italian pupils, aged 6–14 years (M = 9.3; SD = 1.9). Methods: We analyzed emotion dysregulation in terms of specific dimensions (non-acceptance of emotional responses; difficulty in distracting and performing alternative behaviors; lack of confidence in the emotional regulation skills; difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors when distressed; difficulties recognizing emotion; and lack of emotional awareness) and, through correlation and regression analyses, we tested the gender differences. Results: Overall, parents at risk showed several difficulties in the regulation, from emotional awareness/recognition to impulse control through effective coping strategies. In particular, lack of emotional awareness (β = .20, p = .026) was a specific deficit of fathers at risk, whereas non-acceptance of emotional responses (β = .30, p = .001) and difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors (when distressed) (β = .35, p = .001) of mothers at risk. Conclusions: Findings confirmed the significant role of emotional dysregulation in CAP with different profiles for fathers and mothers. Clinical implications were discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104529-N/A
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Child abuse potential
  • Emotion regulation
  • Gender difference
  • Parenting


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