So, apparently kids will use adults as a model for how to respond in a situation. They watch the adults, and then do what the adults do.
Shock, huh? But research needs to prove these cases, too. And this one holds true.
I liked the term 'emotional eves-dropping' in this one. The kids are listening in to see not just how they should act, but how they should feel, and then act.
Allow me to wince, since I know 90% of my kids acting badly with emotions are straight from us modeling the same. Their stage of development is part of it, and so is their serotonin level (from the fructose malabsorption fermentation reaction). But a big part is us setting the stage for 'if this, then that'.
I also skimmed a long technical article about emotional regulation that had some interesting stuff to say about kids who don't seem to cope well at the early part of an interaction or situation (like, say, early part of school year or the transition out of the school year, maybe?). (There's a lot more in there, this was just something that struck me). The kids who apparently struggle with the emotions related to a new experience appear to be more likely to make a positive adaptation than kids who barely react. Kids who barely react may have a less sensitive emotional process at the neurological level, and may just keep their heads down and carry on in their usual track with less positive adaptation. Some of this may relate to introversion or extroversion (IMHO), but part is just that there's an emotional surge early in the process of adaptation and integrating new information and experience.
I thought that was really interesting. My kids express that surge differently, but they all have about a two-or-three week into the process AHHHHHH! freakout. Nice to know that's actually adaptive, since there's not much we can do about it other than be supportive in response. (Some kids freak out in anticipation, also - I suspect that's probably the same function.)