Mechanisms Mediating Children’s Perceived Maternal Nonsupportive Reactions to Sadness and Children’s Social and Emotional Functioning


This study examined whether children’s perceptions of maternal nonsupportive reactions to sadness (active discouragement and non-response) influenced children’s loneliness and classroom popularity indirectly through their effects on children’s sadness inhibition and self-perception of social competence. Participants were children in grades 3–6 from a university affiliated public elementary school (N = 175; 53 % females; 37 % racial/ethnic minority). Children reported on the frequency of their mother’s active discouragement and non-response of their sadness, as well their own sadness inhibition, self-perceived social competence, and loneliness. Classroom peers reported on children’s popularity. Results indicated that perceived maternal non-response to sadness was indirectly related to classroom popularity and loneliness through the effect on children’s self-perception of social competence. In contrast, perceived maternal active discouragement of sadness was indirectly related to children’s classroom popularity through the effect on children’s sadness inhibition. These results support the consideration of active discouragement and non-response as distinct constructs and indicate the likelihood of different pathways of influence in predicting emotional and social outcomes such as loneliness and classroom popularity.

Publication Title

Journal of Child and Family Studies