Emotional and attentional predictors of self-regulation in early childhood

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Abstract

The development of self-regulation in early childhood is related to development of emotional regulation and attention, in particular executive attention (Feldman, 2009; Posner & Rothbart, 1998). As the ability to self-regulate is crucial in life (Casey et al., 2011), it is important to reveal early predictors of self-regulation. The aim of the paper is to present the results of longitudinal studies on the relationships between the functioning of attention, regulation of emotion and later self-regulatory abilities. 310 children were assessed at three time points. At 12 months of age emotional regulation in situation of frustration and attention regulation were assessed. At 18 and 24 months behavioral-emotional regulation in the Snack Delay Task was measured. Additionally parents assessed executive attention using The Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire when children were 26 months old. Structural equation modelling revealed two different paths to development of self-regulatory abilities at 18 months: emotional (reactive system) and emotionalattentional and only one emotional-attentional path at 24 months. The early ability to focus attention and later executive attention functioning revealed to be important predictors of self-regulatory abilities both at 18 and 24 months of age.

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