Review: Is Parent–Child Attachment a Correlate of Children’s Emotion Regulation and Coping?

Published In

International Journal of Behavioral Development

Document Type


Publication Date



Attachment theorists have described the parent–child attachment relationship as a foundation for the emergence and development of children’s capacity for emotion regulation and coping with stress. The purpose of this review was to summarize the existing research addressing this issue. We identified 23 studies that employed validated assessments of attachment, which were not based on self-report questionnaires, and separated the summary into findings for toddlers/preschool, children, and adolescents. Although most associations were weak and only a minority of the multiple possible associations tested was supported in each study, all studies (but one) reported at least one significant association between attachment and emotion regulation or coping. The evidence pointed to the regulatory and coping problems of toddlers showing signs of ambivalent attachment or the benefits of secure (relative to insecure) attachment for toddlers, children, and adolescents. Toddlers who showed signs of avoidant attachment relied more on self-related regulation (or less social-oriented regulation and coping), but it was not clear whether these responses were maladaptive. There was little information available regarding associations of ambivalent attachment with school-age children’s or adolescents’ emotion regulation. There were also few studies that assessed disorganized attachment.


© 2017 Sage. All rights reserved.



Persistent Identifier