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Early Self-Regulation, Early Self-Regulatory Change, and Their Longitudinal Relations to Adolescents' Academic, Health, and Mental Well-Being Outcomes

Howard, Steven J. PhD*; Williams, Kate E. PhD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: July/August 2018 - Volume 39 - Issue 6 - p 489–496
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000578
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate the extent to which early self-regulation and early changes in self-regulation are associated with adolescents' academic, health, and mental well-being outcomes.

Methods: Data were collected from 1 of the cohorts in a large dual-cohort cross-sequential study of Australian children. This cohort consisted of a nationally representative data set of 4983 Australian children assessed at 4 to 5 years of age, who were followed longitudinally to 14 to 15 years of age. Using regression within a path analysis framework, we first sought to investigate associations of early self-regulation (at 4–5 years and 6–7 years of age) with a broad range of academic, health, and mental well-being outcomes in adolescence (at 14–15 years). We next investigated the extent to which an early change in self-regulation (from 4 to 7 years of age) predicted these adolescents' outcomes.

Results: Early self-regulation predicted the full range of adolescents' outcomes considered such that a 1-SD increase in self-regulation problems was associated with a 1.5- to 2.5-times greater risk of more-negative outcomes. An early positive change in self-regulation was associated with a reduced risk of these negative outcomes for 11 of the 13 outcomes considered.

Conclusion: These results suggest the potential of early self-regulation interventions, in particular, in influencing long-term academic, health, and well-being trajectories.

This article has supplementary material on the web site:

*Early Start and School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia;

School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia.

Address for reprints: Steven J. Howard, PhD, School of Education, University of Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia; e-mail:

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

S. J. Howard conceptualized the study, created the core self-regulation variables, drafted the literature review, collaborated writing the discussion, and approved the final version of the article as submitted. K. E. Williams contributed to conceptualization of the study, performed core analyses, drafted the methods and results sections, collaborated in writing the discussion, and approved the final version of the article as submitted.

Received October , 2017

Accepted March , 2018

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