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Enhancing Emotion Regulation in Young Children Through Picture Book Reading


A group of young children sitting in a circle with their teacher in a colorful kindergarten classroom. The teacher is holding a picture book titled "Emotional Regulation" and explaining emotion regulation strategies. The children look engaged and attentive, with clear, expressive faces, surrounded by educational posters, bookshelves, and toys, illustrating the concept of teaching emotion regulation through interactive reading and discussion.
Emotion Regulation in Young Children

The benefits of picture book reading for young children are well-documented, especially for language development. However, recent research by Johanna Schoppmann, Franziska Severin, Silvia Schneider, and Sabine Seehagen has highlighted its potential in teaching emotion regulation strategies to young children.


Study Overview

The study aimed to determine if picture book reading could help three-year-old children use distraction as an emotion regulation strategy. Distraction involves diverting attention from a negative stimulus to something neutral or positive. The study involved 80 children who participated in two waiting situations designed to induce mild frustration. Between these sessions, children read picture books showing characters using distraction techniques, while a control group read unrelated books.


Key Findings

Use of Distraction:

Children who read books featuring distraction strategies were more likely to use these strategies in subsequent waiting situations compared to the control group. This indicates that children can learn and apply emotion regulation techniques from picture books.


Effective Models:

Both child and adult models in the picture books were equally effective in teaching distraction strategies.


Interactive Reading:

A follow-up experiment showed that interactive reading enhanced the children's ability to learn and apply these strategies.


Practical Implications

For parents and educators, incorporating picture books that depict positive emotion regulation strategies into daily reading routines can help children develop these essential skills. Here are a few tips:


Choose Appropriate Books: Select books that show characters managing emotions effectively.

Engage in Interactive Reading: Discuss the story with the child, asking questions about the characters' feelings and actions.

Consistency: Regularly include these books in reading routines to reinforce the learning.

By using picture books strategically, parents and educators can support the development of crucial emotion regulation skills in young children, laying the groundwork for better emotional and social outcomes.


For more detailed insights, refer to the original study published in PLOS ONE​ (PLOS)​​ (Researcher App)​​.



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