Affective Social Competence and Teacher–child Relationship Quality: Race/Ethnicity and Family Income Level as Moderators

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This study examined whether race/ethnicity and family income level moderated associations between children's affective social competence and teacher–child relationships among 132 Black, White, and Latino preschoolers. Boys and girls were equally represented in the sample. Of the three racial/ethnic groups, Latino children scored lowest on emotion regulation, were less close to their teachers, and experienced more teacher–child conflict and dependence. In contrast, Black children had closer, less conflict-laden, and less dependent teacher–child relationships than children of other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Emotion regulation served as a protective factor against problematic teacher–child relationships, particularly for Latino and Black children compared with high-income White children. Emotion regulation was positively associated with teacher–child closeness for Black children. However, it was negatively associated with teacher–child conflict for Latino children, regardless of income. For all outcomes, teacher characteristics accounted highly for the differences in teacher–child relational quality. Findings are discussed in terms of the functional role of emotions for teacher–child relationships and suggest important contextual influences on the associations.

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