Positive Parenting Moderates the Association between Temperament and Self-Regulation in Low-Income Toddlers

Abstract

Self-regulation develops rapidly during the toddler years and underlies many important developmental outcomes, including social-emotional competence and academic achievement. It is important to understand factors that contribute to early self-regulation skills among children at risk for adjustment difficulties in these domains, such as children growing up in poverty. The current study examined mother-reported child temperament (negative affect, effortful control) and observed maternal parenting (during a mother–child free play) as contributing factors to toddlers’ observed self-regulation during delay of gratification tasks at 27 months (snack delay) and 33 months (gift delay). Participants were 198 toddlers (Mage = 27 months; 53% boys; 48% non-Hispanic white) and their mothers from low-income families. Mothers’ negative parenting characterized by negative affect, hostility, and negative control was associated with poorer self-regulation contemporaneously. Toddlers’ lower negative affect and higher effortful control predicted better self-regulation at 33 months, but positive parenting characterized by positive affect and sensitivity moderated these associations at both time points. Specifically, we found a buffering effect of high positive parenting among toddlers with a temperamental risk and a deleterious effect of low positive parenting despite toddlers’ temperamental strength. Results highlight the importance of positive parenting for fostering the development of self-regulation among toddlers growing up with poverty-related and child-level risks.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Adler, N. E., Boyce, T., Chesney, M. A., Folkman, S., & Syme, L. (1993). Socioeconomic inequalities in health: No easy solution. Journal of the American Medical Association, 269, 3140–3145. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1993.03500240084031.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Arbuckle, J. L. (2013). Amos (Version 22.0)[Computer Program]. Chicago: IBM SPSS.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Belsky, J., Hsieh, K., & Crnic, K. (1998). Mothering, fathering, and infant negativity as antecedents of boys’ externalizing problems and inhibition at age 3 years: Differential susceptibility to rearing experience? Development and Psychopathology, 10, 301–319. https://doi.org/10.1017/S095457949800162X.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Black, M. M., Dubowitz, H., & Starr, Jr., R. H. (1999). African American fathers in low income, urban families: development, behavior, and home environment of their three-year-old children. Child Development, 70, 967–978. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00070.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Blandon, A. Y., & Volling, B. L. (2008). Parental gentle guidance and children’s compliance within the family: A replication study. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 355–366. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.22.3.355.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. Bocknek, E. L., Brophy-Herb, H. E., & Banerjee, M. (2009). Effects of parental supportiveness on toddlers’ emotion regulation over the first three years of life in a low-income African American sample. Infant Mental Health Journal, 30, 452–476. https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.20224.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Booth, C. L., Rose-Krasnor, L., McKinnon, J., & Rubin, K. H. (1994). Predicting social adjustment in middle childhood: The role of preschool attachment security and maternal style. Social Development, 3, 189–204. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.1994.tb00040.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bradley, R. H., & Corwyn, R. F. (2002). Socioeconomic status and child development. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 371–399. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135233.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Bridgett, D. J., Burt, N. M., Edwards, E. S., & Deater-Deckard, K. (2015). Intergenerational transmission of self-regulation: A multidisciplinary review and integrative conceptual framework. Psychological Bulletin, 141, 602–654. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038662.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. Bronson, M. B. (2000). Self-regulation in early childhood: Nature and nurture. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Buckner, J. C., Mezzacappa, E., & Beardslee, W. R. (2003). Characteristics of resilient youths living in poverty: The role of self-regulatory processes. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 139–162. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579403000087.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Calkins, S. (1994). Origins and outcomes of individual differences in emotion regulation. In N. A. Fox (Ed.), The development of emotion regulation: Biological and behavioral considerations. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(2–3, Serial No. 240, pp. 53–72).

  14. Calkins, S., & Johnson, M. C. (1998). Toddler regulation of distress to frustrating events: Temperamental and maternal correlates. Infant Behavior and Development, 21, 379–395. doi:10.1016/S0163-6383(98)90015-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Calkins, S. D., Brownell, C. A., & Kopp, C. B. (2007). The emergence of self-regulation: Biological and behavioral control mechanisms supporting toddler competencies. In C. A. Brownell & C. B. Kopp (Eds.), Socioemotional development in the toddler years: Transitions and transformations (pp. 261–284). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Calkins, S. D., Smith, C. L., Gill, K. L., & Johnson, M. C. (1998). Maternal interactive style across contexts: Relations to emotional, behavioral, and physiological regulation during toddlerhood. Social Development, 7, 350–369. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9507.00072.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cecil, C. A., Barker, E. D., Jaffee, S. R., & Viding, E. (2012). Association between maladaptive parenting and child self-control over time: Cross-lagged study using a monozygotic twin difference design. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 201, 291–297. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.111.107581.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Cowan, P. A., Cowan, C. P., Pruett, M. K., Pruett, K., & Wong, J. J. (2009). Promoting fathers’ engagement with children: Preventive interventions for low-income families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 663–679. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2009.00625.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Conger, R. D., Conger, K. J., & Martin, M. J. (2010). Socioeconomic status, family processes, and individual development. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 685–704. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00725.x.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  20. Conway, A., & Stifter, C. A. (2012). Longitudinal antecedents of executive function in preschoolers. Child Development, 83, 1022–1036. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01756.x.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  21. Coyne, L. W., Low, C. M., Miller, A. L., Seifer, R., & Dickstein, S. (2007). Mothers’ empathic understanding of their toddlers: Associations with maternal depression and sensitivity. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 16, 483–497. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-006-9099-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Crockenberg, S., & Litman, C. (1990). Autonomy as competence in 2-year-olds: Maternal correlates of child defiance, compliance, and self-assertion. Developmental Psychology, 26, 961–971. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.26.6.961.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1994). Socialization mediators of the relation between socioeconomic status and child conduct problems. Child Development, 65, 649–665. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1994.tb00774.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Eisenberg, N., Cumberland, A., & Spinrad, T. L. (1998). Parental socialization of emotion. Psychological Inquiry, 9, 241–273. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli0904_1.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., Eguum, N. D., Silva, K. M., Reiser, M., & Hofer, C., et al. (2010). Relations among maternal socialization, effortful control, and maladjustment in early childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 507–525. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579410000246.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J. S., Goldsmith, H. H., & Van Hulle, C. A. (2006). Gender differences in temperament: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 33–72. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.33.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Evans, G. W., & Cassells, R. C. (2013). Childhood poverty, cumulative risk exposure, and mental health in emerging adults. Clinical Psychological Science, 2, 287–296. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702613501496.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  29. Forman, D. (2007). Autonomy, compliance and internalization. In C. Brownell & C. Kopp (Eds.), Socio-emotional development in the toddler years: Transitions and transformation (pp. 261–284). NewYork: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Gallitto, E. (2015). Temperament as a moderator of the effects of parenting on children’s behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 27, 757–773. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579414000753.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Garner, P. W., & Spears, F. M. (2000). Emotion regulation in low-income preschoolers. Social Development, 9, 246–264. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9507.00122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Gilliom, M., Shaw, D., Beck, J., Schonberg, M., & Lukon, J. (2002). Anger regulation in disadvantaged preschool boys: Strategies, antecedents, and the development of self-control. Developmental Psychology, 38, 222–235. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.38.2.222.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Gueron-Sela, N., Wagner, N. J., Propper, C. B., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Moore, G. A., & Cox, M. J. (2017). The interaction between child respiratory sinus arrhythmia and early sensitive parenting in the prediction of children’s executive functions. Infancy, 22, 171–189. https://doi.org/10.1111/infa.12152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Kerr, D. C., Lopez, N. L., Olson, S. L., & Sameroff, A. J. (2004). Parental discipline and externalizing behavior problems in early childhood: The roles of moral regulation and child gender. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32, 369–383. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JACP.0000030291.72775.96.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Kiff, C. J., Lengua, L. J., & Zalewski, M. (2011). Nature and nurturing: Parenting in the context of child temperament. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14, 251–301. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-011-0093-4.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Kochanska, G., & Aksan, N. (2006). Children’s conscience and self-regulation. Journal of Personality, 74, 1587–1617. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00421.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Kochanska, G., Coy, K. C., & Murray, K. T. (2001). The development of self-regulation in the first four years of life. Child Development, 72, 1091–1111. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00336.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Kochanska, G., Murray, K. T., & Harlan, F. (2000). Effortful control in early childhood: Continuity and change, antecedents, and implications for social development. Developmental Psychology, 36, 220–232. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.36.2.220.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Kochanska, G., Murray, K., Jacques, T., Koenig, A., & Vandergeest, K. (1996). Inhibitory control in young children and its role in emerging internalization. Child Development, 67, 490–507. https://doi.org/10.2307/1131828.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Kopp, C. B. (1989). Regulation of distress and negative emotions: A developmental view. Developmental Psychology, 25, 343–354. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.25.3.343.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Little, R. J. A., & Rubin, D. B. (1987). Statistical analysis with missing data. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Lovejoy, M. C., Graczyk, P. A., O’Hare, E., & Neuman, G. (2000). Maternal depression and parenting behavior: A metal-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 20, 561–592.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Martin, A., Razza, R. A., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2012). Specifying the links between household chaos and preschool children’s development. Early Child Development and Care, 182, 1247–1263. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2011.605522.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Matthews, J. S., Ponitz, C. C., Morrison, F. J., Matthews, J. S., Ponitz, C. C., & Morrison, F. J. (2009). Early gender differences in self-regulation and academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 689–704. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014240.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. McLoyd, V. C. (1998). Socioeconomic disadvantage and child development. American Psychologist, 53, 185–204. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.53.2.185.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Mendez, J. L., Fantuzzo, J., & Cicchetti, D. (2002). Profiles of social competence among low-income African American preschool children. Child Development, 73, 1085–1100. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00459.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. Mesman, J., Stoel, R., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M., van IJzendoorn, M. H., Juffer, F., Koot, H. M., & Alik, L. R. A. (2009). Predicting growth curves of early externalizing problems: Differential susceptibility of children with difficult temperament. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 625–636. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-009-9298-0.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. Miller, A. L., McDonough, S. C., Rosenblum, K. L., & Sameroff, A. J. (2002). Emotion regulation in context: Situational effects on infant and caregiver behavior. Infancy, 3, 403–433. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327078IN0304_01.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Miller, A. L., Rosenblum, K. L., Retzloff, L. B., & Lumeng, J. C. (2016). Observed self-regulation is associated with weight in low-income toddlers. Appetite, 105, 705–712. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.007.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  51. Mistry, R. S., Biesanz, J. C., Taylor, L. C., Burchinal, M., & Cox, M. J. (2004). Economic well-being and children’s social adjustment: The role of family process in an ethnically diverse low-income sample. Child Development, 73, 935–951. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00448.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Moffitt, T. E., Poulton, R., & Caspi, A. (2013). Lifelong impact of early self-control. American Scientist, 101, 352–359. https://doi.org/10.1511/2013.104.352.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Murray, K. T., & Kochanska, G. (2002). Effortful control: Factor structure and relation to externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 503–514. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1019821031523.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2004). Affect dysregulation in the mother-child relationship in the toddler years: Antecedents and consequences. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 43–68. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579404044402.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Newton, E. K., Laible, D., Carlo, G., Steele, J. S., & McGinley, M. (2014). Do sensitive parents foster kind children, or vice versa? Bidirectional influences between children’s prosocial behavior and parental sensitivity. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1808–1816. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036495.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  56. Parade, S. H., Dickstein, S., Schiller, M., Hayde, L., & Seifer, R. (2015). Stability of child behavioral style in the first 30 months of life. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 39, 121–129. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025414538555.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Ponitz, C. E. C., McClelland, M. M., Jewkes, A. M., Connor, C. M., Farris, C. L., & Morrison, F. J. (2008). Touch your toes! Developing a direct measure of behavioral regulation in early childhood. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 141–158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2007.01.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Posner, M. I., & Rothbart, M. K. (2000). Developing mechanisms of self regulation. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 427–441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Putnam, S. P., Gartstein, M. A., & Rothbart, M. K. (2006). Measurement of fine-grained aspects of toddler temperament: The Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire. Infant Behavior & Development, 29, 386–401. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2006.01.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Putnam, S. P., Spritz, B. L., & Stifter, C. A. (2002). Mother-child coregulation during delay of gratification at 30 months. Infancy, 3, 209–225. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327078IN0302_6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401. https://doi.org/10.1177/014662167700100306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Raikes, H. A., Robinson, J. L., Bradley, R. H., Raikes, H. H., & Ayoub, C. C. (2007). Developmental trends in self-regulation among low-income toddlers. Social Development, 16, 128–149. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2007.00375.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Raver, C. C., Blair, C., & Garrett-Peters, P., The Family Life Project Key Investigators. (2014). Chronic exposure to poverty, household chaos, and interparental aggression predict children’s emotion regulation. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 1–14.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Rhoades, B. L., Greenberg, M. T., Lanza, S. T., & Blair, C. (2011). Demographic and familial predictors of early executive function development: Contribution of a person-centered perspective. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 638–662. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2010.08.004.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. Rochette, E., & Bernier, A. (2016). Parenting and preschoolers’ executive functioning: A case of differential susceptibility? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 40, 151–161. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025414557370.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Rodriguez, M. L., Ayduk, O., Aber, L., Mischel, W., Sethi, A., & Shoda, Y. (2005). A contextual approach to the development of self-regulatory competencies: The role of maternal unresponsivity and toddlers’ negative affect in stressful situations. Social Development, 14, 136–157. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2005.00294.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Rothbart, M. K., & Bates, J. E. (2006). Temperament. In N. Eisenberg, W. Damon, R. M. Lerner, N. Eisenberg, W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3, Social, emotional, and personality development (6th ed., pp. 99–166). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Roy, A. L., McCoy, D. C., & Raver, C. C. (2014). Instability versus quality: Residential mobility, neighborhood poverty, and children’s self-regulation. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1891–1896. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036984.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  69. Rubin, K. H., Burgess, K. B., Dwyer, K. M., & Hastings, P. D. (2003). Predicting preschoolers' externalizing behaviors from toddler temperament, conflict, and maternal negativity. Developmental Psychology, 39, 164–176. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.39.1.164.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  70. Rutter, M. (2007). Gene–environment interdependence. Developmental Science, 10, 12–18. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00557.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  71. Schiffman, R. F., Omar, M. A., & McKelvey, L. M. (2003). Mother-infant interaction in low-income families. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 28, 246–251. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005721-200307000-00008.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Song, J.-H., & Volling, B. L. (2015). Coparenting and children’s temperament predict firstborns’ cooperation in the care of an infant sibling. Journal of Family Psychology, 29, 130–135. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000052.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  73. Spinrad, T. L., Stifter, C. A., Donelan-McCall, N., & Turner, L. (2004). Mothers’ regulation strategies in response to toddlers’ affect: Links to later emotion self-regulation. Social Development, 13, 40–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2004.00256.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Stipek, D., Recchia, S., & McClintic, S. (1992). Self-evaluation in young children. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 57, 100. https://doi.org/10.2307/1166190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Vernon‐Feagans, L., & Cox, M., FLP Key Investigators. (2013). The Family Life Project: An epidemiological and developmental study of young children living in poor rural communities. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 78, 1–125. https://doi.org/10.1111/mono.12047.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  76. Wahlsten, D. (1990). Insensitivity of the analysis of variance to heredity-environment interaction. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 13, 109–161. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00077797.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Zvara, B. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Garrett-Peters, P., Wagner, N. J., Vernon-Feagans, L., & Cox, M., The Family Life Project Key Contributors. (2014). The mediating role of parenting in the associations between household chaos and children’s representations of family dysfunction. Attachment & Human Development, 16, 633–655. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2014.966124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (1R01HD069179).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ju-Hyun Song.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All study procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee, and were approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Michigan (HUM00045015).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Song, J., Miller, A.L., Leung, C.Y.Y. et al. Positive Parenting Moderates the Association between Temperament and Self-Regulation in Low-Income Toddlers. J Child Fam Stud 27, 2354–2364 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1066-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Temperament
  • Parenting
  • Self-regulation
  • Low-income
  • Toddlerhood
  • Observational method