Emotion-related self-regulation and its relation to children's maladjustment

Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2010:6:495-525. doi: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.121208.131208.


The development of children's emotion-related self-regulation appears to be related to, and likely involved in, many aspects of children's development. In this review, the distinction between effortful self-regulatory processes and those that are somewhat less voluntary is discussed, and literature on the former capacities is reviewed. Emotion-related self-regulation develops rapidly in the early years of life and improves more slowly into adulthood. Individual differences in children's self-regulation are fairly stable after the first year or two of life. Such individual differences are inversely related to at least some types of externalizing problems. Findings for internalizing problems are less consistent and robust, although emotion-related self-regulation appears to be inversely related to internalizing problems after the early years. Self-regulatory capacities have been related to both genetic and environmental factors and their interaction. Some interventions designed to foster self-regulation and, hence, reduce maladjustment, have proved to be at least partially effective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis
  • Adjustment Disorders / epidemiology
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology*
  • Affect*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Social Control, Informal*