Childhood self-regulation as a mechanism through which early overcontrolling parenting is associated with adjustment in preadolescence

Nicole B. Perry, Jessica M. Dollar, Susan D. Calkins, Susan P. Keane, Lilly Shanahan

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26 Scopus citations


We examined longitudinal associations across an 8-year time span between overcontrolling parenting during toddlerhood, self-regulation during early childhood, and social, emotional, and academic adjustment in preadolescence (N = 422). Overcontrolling parenting, emotion regulation (ER), and inhibitory control (IC) were observed in the laboratory; preadolescent adjustment was teacher-reported and child self-reported. Results from path analysis indicated that overcontrolling parenting at age 2 was associated negatively with ER and IC at age 5, which, in turn, were associated with more child-reported emotional and school problems, fewer teacher-reported social skills, and less teacher-reported academic productivity at age 10. These effects held even when controlling for prior levels of adjustment at age 5, suggesting that ER and IC in early childhood may be associated with increases and decreases in social, emotional, and academic functioning from childhood to preadolescence. Finally, indirect effects from overcontrolling parenting at age 2 to preadolescent outcomes at age 10 were significant, both through IC and ER at age 5. These results support the notion that parenting during toddlerhood is associated with child adjustment into adolescence through its relation with early developing self-regulatory skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1542-1554
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Behavioral Science Track Award for Rapid Transition (MH 55625), an NIMH FIRST Award (MH 55584) and an NIMH K-Award (MH 74077) to Susan D. Calkins, and an NIMH Grant (MH 58144) awarded to Susan D. Calkins and Susan P. Keane. The authors also thank the families who generously gave their time to participate in the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Adjustment
  • Emotion regulation
  • Inhibitory control
  • Longitudinal
  • Overcontrol


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