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Parenting and self -regulation in adolescence: Associations with adolescent behavior

Kristin Lea Moilanen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The present study sought to increase understanding of influences on and consequences of self-regulation in adolescence. Empirical and theoretical work has indicated that higher levels of self-regulation are associated with greater social and cognitive competence, whereas poor self-regulation is linked to involvement in risky behavior. Theory posits that authoritative parenting fosters self-regulation and adjustment in childhood and adolescence, but little empirical work has examined these potential influences on self-regulation. It was hypothesized that parental warmth/acceptance, psychological control and behavioral control would be directly and indirectly associated with adjustment outcomes via self-regulation. The current study involved a sample of 169 students in the 6th, 8th, and 10th grades of a small, Midwestern school district. Students completed self-report questionnaires focused on parenting behaviors and adjustment (i.e., internalizing, externalizing, bullying, peer victimization, prosocial behavior, educational goals, and academic performance). Students also responded to a new theoretically-derived measure of self-regulation, the Adolescent Self-Regulatory Inventory (ASRI), which was developed especially for the current study. Parents of a subset of students (n = 79) also completed versions of the ASRI designed to measure their own self-regulation and their perceptions of their child's self-regulation. Exploratory factor analyses of the ASRI revealed two primary factors: short-term self-regulation (e.g., impulse control) and long-term self-regulation (e.g., regulating toward goals). Consistent with hypotheses, results suggested that perceived parental authoritativeness was associated with better self-regulation and adjustment. Parental warmth and behavioral control were positively associated with long-term self-regulation and academic performance, while psychological control was associated with poorer short-term self-regulation, greater internalizing difficulties, higher levels of prosocial behavior, and lower school grades. As predicted, self-regulation was associated with better adjustment: youth with better short-term self-regulation had lower levels of internalizing problems and higher school grades, while youth with higher levels of long-term self-regulation reported fewer externalizing behaviors, less bullying, higher levels of prosocial behavior, higher educational goals and school grades. The mediational hypothesis was largely unsupported. There was little evidence of gender differences on study variables. Parental self-regulation was unrelated to adolescent self-regulation, but parental reports on their child's self-regulation were associated with adolescent self-reports. Theoretical and methodological implications are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Personality|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Moilanen, Kristin Lea, "Parenting and self -regulation in adolescence: Associations with adolescent behavior" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3176795.