Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 57–69 | Cite as

Individual Differences in the Development of Self-Regulation During Pre-adolescence: Connections to Context and Adjustment

  • Kevin M. KingEmail author
  • Liliana J. Lengua
  • Kathryn C. Monahan


Difficulties with self-regulation are implicated in the development of emotional and behavioral problems during adolescence. Although children’s ability to regulate their behaviors continues to improve throughout childhood and adolescence, it remains unclear how contextual risk factors might influence this development during the transition to adolescence, or how variation in the development of self-regulation predicts adjustment. Using a community sample of 214 8–12 year-olds (T1 M = 9.5, SD = 1.01), we examined growth trajectories of effortful control and impulsivity over three years and tested predictors and outcomes of these trajectories. Although predictors of initial levels of self-regulation were largely equivalent for both effortful control and impulsivity, contextual risk factors were related to variations in the development of impulsivity but not effortful control. However, increases in effortful control, but not impulsivity, were associated with level and rate of change in adjustment problems and positive adjustment, suggesting that different dimensions of self-regulation have different antecedents and outcomes in pre-adolescence and adolescence.


Effortful control Impulsivity Self-regulation Growth curve modeling Adjustment 



Support for this research was provided by NIMH Grant #R29MH57703 to the second author. Portions of these analyses were presented at the 2008 Occasional Temperament Conference in San Rafael, CA, the 2009 Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development in Denver, CO, and the 2010 Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence in Philadelphia, PA. The authors thank the families who participated in this study, and Nicole Bush for her contribution to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin M. King
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Liliana J. Lengua
    • 1
  • Kathryn C. Monahan
    • 2
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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