Self-regulation is a broad concept that focuses on efforts to modify behaviour to reach goals. Between the ages of one and three children make great strides in self-regulation. They become increasingly adept at changing their behaviour to meet the demands of a situation and better understand - and are more able to meet - external standards for behaviour. Early competence in self-regulation predicts better adaptive skills and fewer problem behaviours later in childhood. A U.S. study of 100 young children studied them at 20, 27 and 34 months old. The earlier that the children understood they were independent beings whose actions were able to have an effect on their environment the better was their self-regulation. Maternal warmth was also linked to better self-regulation. Although half the toddlers had been exposed to maternal depression this was not found to be linked to self-regulation.
Jennings, Kay D. ... [et al] - Understanding of self and maternal warmth predict later self-regulation in toddlers International Journal of Behavioural Development 2008, 32(2), 108-118