Emotional Self-Regulation, Teacher-Child Relationships, and School Adjustment

McCarty, Jane Eastman, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Rimm-Kaufman, Sara, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Konold, Timothy, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
LoCasale-Crouch, Jennifer, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Young children entering preschool are expected to handle challenges and frustrations without strong emotional reactions, and children who enter school with lower emotional self-regulation risk serious educational and social problems. Yet 3 and 4 year-olds just learning these skills may need adult support to manage frustration and engage appropriately in classroom activities. However, developing supportive relationships with teachers is less likely for children with lower emotional self-regulation skills. The aim of this exploratory study of 381 preschool 3 and 4 year old children was to describe differences and associations in emotional self-regulation through their emotional reaction and emotion control, qualities of conflict or closeness in teacher-child relationships, and children's task engagement in preschool. Teachers completed ratings on child emotional self-regulation and teacher-child relationships. Classroom observations of task engagement and teacher conflict were conducted by independent observers. Regression analyses were conducted to examine the relations between children's emotionality, regulated emotion and frustration tolerance with teachers' perceptions of their relationships with students. Differences were found based on gender, age, and sociodemographic risk in this largely Hispanic sample. Teacher conflict was predicted by children with higher emotionality as well as those having higher risk, while teacher closeness was predicted by regulated emotion and frustration tolerance. In examining the relations between components of children's emotional self-regulation and task engagement in preschool, task engagement was only predicted by frustration tolerance. An interaction between frustration tolerance and teacher closeness predicted task engagement for children with sociodemographic risk. Results are discussed in terms of gender, age, and sociodemographic risk. These findings have implications for early childhood research, preschool programs, and classroom practice.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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