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Early poverty is associated with a cumulative load of family and community risk factors that can impact the development of self-regulatory abilities and result in socio-emotional and achievement gaps which begin early and persist across the lifespan. Ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among children living in poverty. The longitudinal trajectories of self-regulation are important to understand in this population, in order to best inform prevention efforts. This study examines patterns of self-regulation over time among young, ethnic minority children living in low income, urban households. A stratified, random sample of 555 children, ages 2 to 4 years, (46% Black, 46% Hispanic; 47% female) were followed over three waves (including 1 and 5 year follow-ups). Internalizing and externalizing behaviors at approximately age nine were predicted by children’s early self-regulation. Latent class analyses revealed low, medium, and high levels of self-regulatory abilities at wave 1 (mean age: 2.99, SD = .81) and low and high levels, 1 year later (mean age: 4.39 (SD = .94). A gender effect was found whereby girls were more likely than boys to be in the high self-regulation class relative to the low at both waves. Using Latent Transition Analysis, distal outcomes were examined approximately 5 years after the initial assessment (mean age: 8.83, SD = .93). Children who sustained a higher level of self-regulation over time had the lowest internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Transition to low self-regulation at wave 2, regardless of initial self-regulation status, was related to greater severity of internalizing symptoms. Implications for prevention and future research are discussed.
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- Longitudinal Patterns of Self-Regulation among Ethnic Minority Children Facing Poverty
Brett M. Kia-Keating
Ryan P. Grimm
- Springer US