Background: The ability to regulate emotions is a key developmental achievement acquired during social interactions and associated with better behavioral and social outcomes. We examined the influence of culture on child emotion regulation (ER) and aggression and on early parenting practices, and the role of parenting in child ER. Methods: We assessed 48 mother-infant dyads from three cultures (1 UK, 2 South African) at infant age of 3 months for maternal sensitivity during face-to-face interactions and responses to infant distress during daily life, and at 2 years for child ER strategies and maternally reported aggression. Results: There were cultural differences in child ER, and these were associated with differences in levels of aggression. Maternal strategies in response to early infant distress also differed by culture and predicted later child ER. Maternal sensitivity during face-to-face interactions was not associated with culture and showed no clear relationship with child ER. Conclusion: Cultural differences in maternal responses to infant distress mediated differences in child ER that are, in turn, related to differences in child aggression.

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