An experimental study of the effects of autonomy support on preschoolers' self-regulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Parents are a primary influence on the development of self-regulation skills, which are crucial for successful child outcomes. This study was a short-term experimental investigation of parent autonomy support and its effect on 3-year-old children's self-regulation (N pairs = 128; 50% fathers). Parent and child behavior was measured at baseline. Then parents were randomly assigned to complete a challenging puzzle with their child in either a highly autonomy supportive or highly controlling manner. Child behavior was measured again at posttest. Results showed that parents were able to change their behavior according to the instructions given, with parents who were lower in autonomy support at baseline benefiting most from the autonomy support training. Changes in parenting affected child behavior during the dyadic puzzle. Mothers and fathers had similar parenting quality at baseline. These results indicate that parent autonomy support is a promising target for child self-regulation interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-23
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, and a Departmental Small Grant from the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota. Research assistants: Maria Bertrand, Olivia Christopher, Malaz Ebrahim, Heather Markun-Heard, Elsa Mattson, Bingle Torres Gavarrete. Thank you to all of the families who participated in this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Autonomy support
  • Executive function
  • Fathers
  • Mothers
  • Preschoolers
  • Self-regulation


Dive into the research topics of 'An experimental study of the effects of autonomy support on preschoolers' self-regulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this