Children who possess less self-regulatory skill are at a disadvantage when compared to children who demonstrate greater skill at regulating their emotions, cognitions and behavior. Children with these regulatory deficits have difficulty connecting with peers, generating relationships with teachers, negotiating their social world, and succeeding academically. By understanding the correlates of self-regulatory abilities, interventions can be developed to ensure that children at-risk for poor self-regulation receive the support necessary to enhance their regulatory skills. Using data from a nationally representative survey of English-speaking American parents with children between the ages of two and eight (n = 1,141), we evaluated a host of demographic and parenting variables to isolate the correlates of self-regulation. Older children were found to have fewer regulatory problems than younger children while children from low-income homes and male children were found to have greater problems with self-regulation. Minority status, household composition (single vs multi-parent), and parental education were not significant correlates of self-regulation. Findings also illustrate the powerful relationship between parenting style and self-regulation. Parents who rely on nurturing parenting practices that reinforce the child’s sense of autonomy while still maintaining a consistent parenting presence (i.e., authoritative parenting) have children who demonstrate stronger self-regulatory skills. Parents who exert an excess of parental control (i.e., authoritarian parents) have children with weaker self-regulatory skills. And lastly, parents who have notable absence of control (i.e., permissive parents) are more likely to have children with considerable regulatory deficits. Results offer implications for both practitioners and scholars.
Keywords: Demographic groups, Early childhood, Parenting style, Representative, Self-regulation