Date of Graduation

Fall 2022


Master of Science in Early Childhood and Family Development


Early Childhood and Family Development

Committee Chair

Elizabeth King


This study examined teachers’ emotion validating language regarding negative emotion in early childhood classrooms. By analyzing teachers’ emotion language differing by gender, the research highlights the gendered socialization of emotional expression, especially regarding negative emotions, in early childhood contexts. In toddler and preschool classrooms, 28 teachers were video recorded during 4 thirty-minute sessions of free play time. Videos were coded for teachers’ emotion language regarding negative emotions with attention to the gender of the child to whom the language was spoken. Results indicate that teachers validate negative emotions more to girls than to boys. This aligns with previous research that suggests that girls’ expression of emotion is more encouraged and acceptable than boys. Additionally, exploratory analyses of the type of emotion discussed suggest that teachers validate sadness less to boys than to girls and validate anger more to boys than to girls. This work highlights potential gender differences in emotion socialization and points to missed opportunities to validate boys’ negative emotions and thus develop their emotion language and regulation skills. Implications for teacher professional development are discussed.


social emotional development, emotion language, emotion validating language, socialization by gender, socialization in the classroom, teachers, early childhood education, emotion socialization, gender

Subject Categories

Communication | Development Studies | Linguistics


© Tea Rose Pankey

Open Access