Emotional Self-Regulation, Peer Rejection, and Antisocial Behavior: Developmental Associations from Early Childhood to Early Adolescence

J Appl Dev Psychol. 2009 May 1;30(3):356-365. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2008.12.016.


This study examined relations among emotional self-regulation, peer rejection, and antisocial behavior in a sample of 122 boys from low-income families who participated in a summer camp and were followed longitudinally from early childhood to early adolescence. Emotional self- regulation strategies were coded in early childhood from a waiting task, measures of peer rejection were collected during middle childhood at the summer camp, and reports of antisocial behavior were obtained during early adolescence. Structural equation modeling was utilized to examine longitudinal relations among these constructs, with results supporting a negative association between use of active distraction and peer rejection and a positive association between peer rejection and antisocial behavior. Furthermore, an indirect effect of active distraction on antisocial behavior was found through peer rejection. Thus, adaptive self-regulation strategy use in early childhood demonstrated direct longitudinal relations with peer rejection and an indirect association with antisocial behavior in early adolescence. Results have implications for early prevention and intervention efforts to foster adaptive self-regulation of emotion and reduce risk for later social problems and delinquency.