Off-campus WSU users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your WSU access ID and password, then click the "Off-campus Download" button below.

Non-WSU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Christopher J. Trentacosta


Self-regulation in early childhood has been linked to a multitude of short-term and long-term adaptive outcomes (Calkins, 2007; Diamond, 2002; Moffitt, et al., 2011; Montroy, et al., 2016). However, children from impoverished environments may have fewer opportunities to develop these important skills. Research has shown that a supportive and positive mother-child relationship can promote the development of self-regulation, but limited attention has focused on the unique role of fathers and alternate caregivers. The current study examined associations between alternate caregiver involvement and parenting and children’s self-regulation skills in toddlerhood and preschool age. A sample of 131 families, primarily identifying as low-income and African-American, participated in the first wave of data collection when children were ages 24-31 months. Mothers and alternate caregivers completed questionnaires regarding their children’s self-regulation. Children completed a delay of gratification task. Also, alternate caregivers and toddlers completed a dyadic interaction task that was coded for positive parenting. Then, 47 families participated in follow-up data collection when children were preschool age (42-54 months). Mothers reported on children’s self-regulation. Children completed a computerized task of executive functioning and a verbal ability task. Initial analyses focused on the toddlerhood wave. A cumulative risk index was computed using reported demographic indicators. Cumulative risk and caregiver depressive symptoms were significantly associated with toddler self-regulation. Caregiver residency was associated with toddler self-regulation, but positive parenting was not. Alternate caregiver involvement was also examined a as a moderator of the relation between risk and toddler self-regulation, though there was limited evidence to support this hypothesis. Contrary to the hypothesis, alternate caregiver positive parenting behaviors did not moderate the relation between risk and toddler self-regulation. However, longitudinal analyses indicated that alternate caregiver positive parenting behaviors during toddlerhood were significantly associated with children’s executive function task performance during preschool. This study included a broad examination of caregiving in the context of risk, and how unique alternate caregiving relationships can influence children’s self-regulation in toddlerhood and preschool. These findings provide some support for the notion that coparents, including fathers, grandmothers, aunts, and nonrelative adults, play an important role in children’s development of self-regulation.

Off-campus Download