Metacognitive emotion regulation: children's awareness that changing thoughts and goals can alleviate negative emotions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Metacognitive emotion regulation strategies involve deliberately changing thoughts or goals to alleviate negative emotions. Adults commonly engage in this type of emotion regulation, but little is known about the developmental roots of this ability. Two studies were designed to assess whether 5- and 6-year-old children can generate such strategies and, if so, the types of metacognitive strategies they use. In Study 1, children described how story protagonists could alleviate negative emotions. In Study 2, children recalled times that they personally had felt sad, angry, and scared and described how they had regulated their emotions. In contrast to research suggesting that young children cannot use metacognitive regulation strategies, the majority of children in both studies described such strategies. Children were surprisingly sophisticated in their suggestions for how to cope with negative emotions and tailored their regulatory responses to specific emotional situations.

published proceedings

  • Emotion

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Davis, E. L., Levine, L. J., Lench, H. C., & Quas, J. A.

citation count

  • 100

complete list of authors

  • Davis, Elizabeth L||Levine, Linda J||Lench, Heather C||Quas, Jodi A

publication date

  • August 2010