Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 799–810 | Cite as

Examining Early Behavioral Persistence as a Dynamic Process: Correlates and Consequences Spanning Ages 3–10 Years

  • Hyein ChangEmail author
  • Sheryl L. Olson


We investigated systematic changes in 3-year-olds’ effortful persistence in a dyadic problem-solving context and explored their correlates (i.e., parenting behavior and demographic characteristics at 3 years) and consequences (i.e., child externalizing behavior at 3, 6, and 10 years) within a sample of 241 middle-income families (118 girls). Results indicated that children may be grouped into three classes based on their behavioral profiles of persistence. Children who were highly persistent over the course of the task were more likely to have higher levels of IQ and mothers who were observed to be more behaviorally responsive than those who showed consistently low levels of task-related behavior. Additionally, children who demonstrated stably low levels of persistence were rated by teachers to display more externalizing behavior at 6 and 10 years than those in the other groups. Profiles of persistence did not predict concurrent levels of child externalizing behavior at the age of 3 years. The findings are discussed with respect to expanding the scope of research on child self-regulation by defining it as a time based construct and tracking its dynamic changes.


Behavioral persistence Effortful control Maternal responsiveness Externalizing behavior 



This research was part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (RO1MH57489) to the second author. We are very grateful to the children, parents, teachers, and preschool administrators for making this research possible.

Conflict of Interest

We have no potential conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySungkyunkwan UniversityJongno-GuSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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