Active-constructive responses to adolescents

How do parents respond to adolescents’ positive affect when adolescents share positive life events or experiences? According to the results of this study, it is important that parents use active-constructive responses. Consequently, these responses show the importance of positive life events and model strategies for prolonging positive affect in youth.

 Emotion regulation skills

Parents influence the development of youths’ emotion regulation skills through different processes, for example:

  • Parental modeling of emotions
  • Emotional climate of the family
  • Parents’ responses to youth emotions

 Responses to positive emotions

This study focused on parents’ responses to positive emotions of youth, for example happiness and excitement. Active-constructive responses to positive emotions include:

  • Acknowledging
  • Encouraging
  • Celebrating

Active-constructive responses maximize the importance of the positive life experiences and may prolong positive affect of youth. On the other hand, repeated experiences of responses that include punishing and interfering may lead to depressive symptoms in adolescents. Consequently, adolescents may devalue their positive experiences, which may reduce their feelings of positive affect.

 Design of the study

This study examined if maternal active-constructive responses to adolescents’ positive affect when sharing positive events are related to effective emotion regulation strategies in adolescents. Adolescents and their mothers participated in the study. They filled out questionnaires and participated in different tasks. For example, they were asked to plan a fun family day trip. The responses were coded.

 Importance of active-constructive responses

The results of the study showed that:

  • Maternal active-constructive responses were related to adolescents’ effective regulation strategies of positive emotions.
  • In addition, maternal active-constructive responses were indirectly related to lower depressive symptoms in adolescents through effective regulation strategies of positive emotions.

Scientific Parenting Tips Tips

  • When responding to adolescents’ expression of positive events, try to use active-constructive responses that include interest and excitement. For example, express happiness or excitement. You can also seek additional information and ask questions to express your interest.
  • Active-constructive responses reinforce the expression of positive life events. As a result, adolescents may recognize the importance of expressing and maintaining positive emotions and may learn effective emotion regulation strategies. Effective emotion regulation strategies may protect against depressive symptoms.


More Information Scientific Parenting Tips More information

Fredrick, J. W., Mancini, K. J., & Luebbe, A. M. (2018). Maternal enhancing responses to adolescents’ positive affect: Associations with adolescents’ positive affect regulation and depression. Social Development.

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