As one of the core developmental skills that develop in preschool and early childhood, self regulation forms the basis of a child's ability to manage challenging situations, and hence successfully adapt in social, behavioral, and psychological domains. Examination of self regulation on multiple levels includes investigation of physiological, emotional, and behavioral domains. Given the central importance of deregulations and disintegration for the development and maintenance of childhood disorders, efforts to identify patterns of coherence among regulatory systems are critical to engendering positive adaptation. In addition, deficits in early environments and care-giving relationships exert a powerful influence on the development of self regulatory systems and subsequent adjustment. This program of research adopts a process-level approach to examining inter- and intra- individual differences in the development of self regulation by assessing physiological, emotional, and behavioral regulation in children during stressful tasks, as well as their concurrent and prospective adaptation, and relevant risk and protective factors. Drawing on a sample of 250 preschool children from diverse ethnic backgrounds and risk contexts, followed longitudinally, this research will employ multiple methods and informants to assess these capacities and their transactional relations within and across time points. This research is novel in its focus on the integration of regulatory systems across multiple levels of analysis, and in its examination of the influences of both environmental and relational risks on patterns of adaptation and adjustment. This investigation will yield important knowledge for developmental science and for the design and implementation of context sensitive interventions.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed study will enhance the study of self regulation through wide dissemination of both results and methods, enabling future research and funding to focus on well-specified mechanisms of adaptation, recognizing the central importance of regulatory capacities to negotiation of all subsequent developmental tasks. This work will enhance school readiness and inform parenting interventions that target efforts to the specific effects of relational and environmental risk factors, as well as the particular deficits that underlie negative outcomes and threaten mental health. Due to the ethnic diversity of this sample, the study will also provide findings that focus future research and interventions on disadvantaged minority groups.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F11-L (20))
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Sarampote, Christopher S
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University of California Riverside
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Berzenski, Sara R; Bennett, David S; Marini, Victoria A et al. (2014) The Role of Parental Distress in Moderating the Influence of Child Neglect on Maladjustment. J Child Fam Stud 23:1325-1336
Berzenski, Sara R; Yates, Tuppett M (2013) Preschoolers' emotion knowledge and the differential effects of harsh punishment. J Fam Psychol 27:463-72
Berzenski, Sara R; Yates, Tuppett M (2011) Classes and consequences of multiple maltreatment: a person-centered analysis. Child Maltreat 16:250-61