Parents play a major role in how and how much a child’s anxiety is expressed, yet often without guidelines or tools. Society expects parents to teach our children positive behavior, but when do we learn about socializing their emotions? If our kids misbehave or can’t sit still in class, we will hear pretty quickly from their teachers. But we are far less likely to hear concerns about a child whose feelings seem out of step—who blushes and stutters when called on in class, shuns playmates, or feverishly bites her nails.
“Emotion socialization” describes how children learn about feelings. Dr. Nancy Eisenberg, a psychologist at Arizona State University, studies how children understand emotions and learn when and how to express them, and she has found three crucial influences.