Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Lisa K. Boyce


Lisa K. Boyce


Kay Bradford


Lori A. Roggman


This study uses the father-child activation theory, which identifies the father-child relationship as a source for self-regulation learning. Father-child play behaviors during toddlerhood were examined for their contribution to self-regulation skills, specifically emotion regulation and aggression. This study examined father-child play behaviors of emotion amplification, intrusiveness, positive regard, and child emotion regulation seeking in the National Early Head Start (EHS) Evaluation. Fathers who used more emotion amplification at 24 months were less intrusive, showed more positive regard, and had children who sought more emotion regulation at 24 months than fathers who used less emotion amplification. Fathers who were more intrusive during play had children who were less likely to seek emotion regulation with them than fathers of children who were less intrusive. Correlational results indicate gender differences in fathers’ intrusiveness. Children who sought emotion regulation demonstrated greater emotion regulation at 24 and 36 months than children who sought less emotion regulation during play. Furthermore, children with fathers who showed more emotion amplification and positive regard demonstrated better emotion regulation at 36 months. The regression models predicting child emotion regulation at 24 and 36 months accounted for 21% and 22% of the variance, respectively. However, only paternal positive regard and child emotion regulation-seeking during play were significant predictors at 24 months and no pathways were significant in the 36-month model. Regression models predicting child aggression were not significant. Results suggest that father-child play may be an important context for child emotion regulation development in young children.