Conclusions

Growing up in a stressful early environment marked by low SES and/or harsh parenting has effects on socioemotional skills, chronic negative affect, and health behaviors that are implicated in downstream adverse health outcomes. The evidence is, thus, consistent with our theoretical model, namely, that the failure to learn emotion recognition and regulation skills in early childhood due to a harsh early environment may interfere with the ability to manage potentially threatening stimuli. Compromises in the regulation of stress responses may ultimately produce changes in biological stress regulatory systems, which, in turn, confer a broad array of mental and physical health risks. Findings such as these underscore the vital importance of developing methods for identifying children at risk for maltreatment early and for developing interventions to offset or attenuate adverse costs to socioemo-tional regulation incurred from maltreatment.

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