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Income and the development of effortful control as predictors of teacher reports of preschool adjustment

This study examined the relations of income and children's effortful control to teacher reports of preschoolers' social competence and adjustment problems. This study tested whether changes in effortful control accounted for the effects of income on children's adjustment. A community sample (N = 306) of preschool-age children (36-40 mos.) and their mothers, representing the full range of income (29% at or near poverty, 28% at or below the local median income), was used. Path analyses were used to test the prospective effects of income on rank-order changes in two aspects of effortful control, executive control and delay ability, which in turn, predicted teacher-reported adjustment problems and social competence. Lower income predicted smaller rank-order change in executive control, but did not predict changes in delay ability. Smaller rank-order change in delay ability predicted greater adjustment problems above the effect of income. Larger rank-order change in executive control predicted greater social competence and fewer adjustment problems above the effect of income. These findings provided some support for the hypothesis that disruptions in the development of effortful control related to low income might account for the effects of low income on young children's adjustment. Effortful control is potentially a fruitful target for intervention, particularly among children living in low income and poverty. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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