Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: July 2009

12 - Self-Regulation and the Development of Behavioral and Emotional Problems: Toward an Integrative Conceptual and Translational Research Agenda


Within the field of developmental psychopathology, there is growing interest in research examining the development of self-regulatory processes and its relevance to understanding the emergence of clinically significant problems with behavior or emotion. Earlier chapters in this book present current conceptual approaches and sets of empirical findings that address these issues. In this chapter, we discuss this exciting and rapidly advancing area of research with a primary goal of considering points of integration across some of the main themes described in the previous chapters; we also present some thoughts about key directions for future research.

Specifically, in this chapter we address the following four areas: (1) definitional and conceptual issues that underscore the construct of self-regulation as a set of complex multifaceted processes, (2) the importance of contextual effects in shaping these processes throughout development, (3) the ways in which failures in the development of self-regulatory competencies may lead to clinically significant problems, and (4) one example of a developmental nexus of regulatory interactions during adolescence – self-regulation in the context of pubertal maturation, sleep, emotion, and cognition. We believe that this example helps illustrate some key principles, including the potential value of a neurobehavioral framework for understanding some aspects of self-regulation, as well as some implications for translational research on the development of self-regulatory processes.


We begin this chapter by considering conceptual issues regarding the construct of self-regulation.

Alapin, I., Fichten, C. S., Libman, E., Creti, L., Bailes, S., & Wright, J. (2000). How is good and poor sleep in older adults and college students related to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and ability to concentrate?Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 49, 381–390.
Arcus, D. (2001). Inhibited and uninhibited children. In Wachs, T. D. & Kohnstamm, G. A. (Eds.), Temperament in context (pp. 43–60). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Arnedt, J. T., Owens, J., Crouch, M., Stahl, J., & Carskadon, M. A. (2005). Neurobehavioral performance of residents after heavy night call vs. after alcohol ingestion. Journal of the American Medical Association, 294, 1025–1033.
Arsensio, W. F., & Lover, A. (1997). Emotions, conflicts, and aggression during pre-schooler's free play. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 15, 531–542.
Barr, R. G. (2000). Excessive crying. In Sameroff, A. J., Lewis, M., & Miller, S. M. (Eds.), Handbook of developmental psychopathology (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
Bass, J., & Turek, F. W. (2005). Sleepless in America: A pathway to obesity and the metabolic syndrome?Archives of Internal Medicine, 165, 15–16.
Bootzin, R. R., & Stevens, S. J. (2005). Adolescents, substance abuse, and the treatment of insomnia and daytime sleepiness. Clinical Psychology Review, 25, 629–644.
Breslau, N., Roth, T., Rosenthal, L., & Andreski, P. (1996). Sleep disturbance and psychiatric disorders: A longitudinal epidemiological study of young adults. Biological Psychiatry, 39, 411–418.
Brower, K. J. (2001). Alcohol's effects on sleep in alcoholics. Alcohol Research in Health, 25(2), 110–125.
Brower, K. J., Aldrich, M. S., & Hall, J. M. (1998). Polysomnographic and subjective sleep predictors of alcoholic relapse. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 22, 1864–1871.
Busby, K. A., Mercier, L., & Pivik, R. T. (1994). Ontogenetic variations in auditory arousal threshold during sleep. Psychophysiology, 31, 182–188.
Busby, K., & Pivik, R. T. (1983). Failure of high intensity auditory stimuli to affect behavioral arousal in children during the first sleep cycle. Pediatric Research, 17, 802–805.
Carskadon, M. A. (2002a). Factors influencing sleep patterns of adolescents. In Carskadon, M. A. (Ed.), Adolescent sleep patterns: Biological, social, and psychological influences (pp. 4–26). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Carskadon, M. A. (2002b). Risks of driving while sleepy in adolescents and young adults. In Carskadon, M. A. (Ed.), Adolescent sleep patterns: Biological, social, and psychological influences (pp. 148–158). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Carskadon, M. A. (2005). Sleep and circadian rhythms in children and adolescents: Relevance for athletic performance of young people. Clinical Sports Medicine, 24, 319–328.
Carskadon, M. A., Mindell, J. A., & Drake, C. (2006). Sleep in America poll. Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation.
Castillo, R. J. (1997). Culture and mental illness: A client-centered approach. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.
Chang, P. P., Ford, D. E., Mead, L. A., Cooper-Patrick, L., & Klag, M. J. (1997). Insomnia in young men and subsequent depression: The Johns Hopkins Precursors Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 146, 105–114.
Chen, X. (2000). Social and emotional development in Chinese children and adolescents: A contextual cross-cultural perspective. In F. Columbus (Ed.), Advances in psychology research, Vol. I (pp. 229–251). Huntington, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Chen, X., Li, D., Li, Z., Li, B., & Liu, M. (2000). Sociable and prosocial dimensions of social competence in Chinese children: Common and unique contributions to social, academic and psychological adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 36, 302–314.
Clarke, G. N., Hornbrook, M., Lynch, F., Polen, M., Gale, J., Beardslee, W., et al. (2001). A randomized trial of a group cognitive intervention for preventing depression in adolescent offspring of depressed parents. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 1127–1134.
Conway, A. (2002). Does maternal positive affect in infant play promote early strengths? Paper presented at the Positive Psychology Summer Institute, Wilmington, DE.
Conway, A. (2005). The development of emotion regulation: The role of effortful attentional control and positive affect. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan.
Conway, A., & McDonough, S. C. (2006). Emotional resilience in early childhood: Developmental antecedents and relations to behavior problems. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 272–277.
Conway, A., McDonough, S., Clark, J., & Smith, A. (2001, April). Predictors of long-term cry reduction in infancy: The role of maternal positive affect. Poster presented at the biennial meeting for the Society for Research in Child Development. Minneapolis.
Conway, A., McDonough, S., & Sameroff, A. (2002, April). Maternal positive affect promotes the development of emotion regulation and child competence. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies. Toronto.
Conway, A., McDonough, S. C., & Sameroff, A. (submitted). Longitudinal antecedents of emotion regulation during early preschool.
Dahl, R. E. (1996). The impact of inadequate sleep on children's daytime cognitive function. Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, 3, 44–50.
Dahl, R. E. (2002). The regulation of sleep-arousal, affect, and attention in adolescence: Some questions and speculations. In Carskadon, M. A. (Ed.), Adolescent sleep patterns: Biological, social and psychological influences (pp. 269–284). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dahl, R. E., & Harvey, A. G. (2008). Sleep disorders. In Rutter's child and adolescent psychiatry (5th ed.) Somerset, NJ: John, Wiley & Sons.
Davidson, R. J. (1998). Affective style and affective disorders: Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Cognition & Emotion, 307–330.
Dinges, D. F., Pack, F., Williams, K., Gillen, K. A., Powell, J. W., Ott, G. E., et al. (1997). Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance, and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during a week of sleep restricted to 4–5 hours per night. Sleep, 20, 267–277.
Drummond, S. P., Gillin, J. C., Smith, T. L., & DeModena, A. (1998). The sleep of abstinent pure primary alcoholic patients: Natural course and relationship to relapse. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 22, 1796–1802.
Dryman, A., & Eaton, W. W. (1991). Affective symptoms associated with the onset of major depression in the community: Findings from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia, 84, 1–5.
Ellsworth, P. (1994). Sense, culture, and sensibility. In Kitayama, S. & Markus, H. R. (Eds.), Emotion and culture: Empirical studies of mutual influence (pp. 23–50). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Fischer, S., Nitschke, M. F., Melchert, U. H., Erdmann, C., & Born, J. (2005). Motor memory consolidation in sleep shapes more effective neuronal representations. Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 11248–11255.
Frank, M. G., Issa, N. P., & Stryker, M. P. (2001). Sleep enhances plasticity in the developing visual cortex. Neuron, 30, 275–287.
Fredrickson, B. L., & Levenson, R. W. (1998). Positive emotions speed recovery from the cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 12, 191–220.
Fredrickson, B. L., Mancuso, R. A., Branigan, C., & Tugade, M. M. (2000). The undoing effect of positive emotions. Motivation and Emotion, 24, 237–258.
Gibson, E., Powles, A. C. P., Thabane, L., O'Brien, S., Molnar, D., Trajanovic, N., et al. (2006). “Sleepiness” is serious in adolescence: Two surveys of 3,235 Canadian students. BMC Public Health, 6, 116.
Gray, J. A. (1987). The psychology of fear and stress (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hansen, M., Janssen, I., Schiff, A., Zee, P. C., & Dubocovich, M. L. (2005). The impact of school daily schedule on adolescent sleep. Pediatrics, 115, 1555–1561.
Harter, S. (1999). The construction of self: A developmental perspective. New York: Guilford Press.
Haynes, P. L., Bootzin, R. R., Smith, L., Cousins, J., Cameron, M., & Stevens, S. (2006). Sleep and aggression in substance-abusing adolescents: Results from an integrative behavioral sleep-treatment pilot program. Sleep, 29, 512–520.
Ho, D. Y. F. (1986). Chinese patterns of socialization: A critical review. In Bond, M. H. (Ed.), The psychology of the Chinese people (pp. 1–37). Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.
Hofer, M. A. (1994). Hidden regulators in attachment, separation, and loss. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(240, nos. 2–3), 192–207.
Jenni, O. G., Achermann, P., & Carskadon, M. A. (2005). Homeostatic sleep regulation in adolescents. Sleep, 28, 1446–1454.
Jenni, O. G., & Dahl, R. E. (2008). Sleep, cognition, and emotion: A developmental view. In Nelson, C. A. & Luciana, M. (Eds.), Handbook of developmental cognitive neuroscience (2nd ed., pp. 807–818). Cambridge: MITPress.
Kochanska, G. (1991). Socialization and temperament in the development of guilt and conscience. Child Development, 62, 1379–1392.
Kochanska, G. (1995). Emotional development in children with different attachment histories: The first three years. Child Development, 72, 474–490.
Kopp, C. B. (1982). Antecedents of self-regulation: A developmental perspective. Developmental Psychology, 18, 199–214.
Kopp, C. B. (1989). Regulation of distress and negative emotions: A developmental review. Developmental Psychology, 25, 343–354.
Kuh, D., & Ben-Shlomo, Y. (2004). A life course approach to chronic disease epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lee, T. M., Hummer, D. L., & Jechura, T. J. (2004). Pubertal development of sex differences in circadian function: An animal model. In Dahl, R. E. & Spear, L. P. (Eds.), Adolescent brain development vulnerabilities and opportunities: Vol. 1021 (pp. 262–275). New York: New York Academy of Sciences.
Livingston, G., Blizard, B., & Mann, A. (1993). Does sleep disturbance predict depression in elderly people? A study in inner London. British Journal of General Practice, 43, 445–448.
Luna, B., & Sweeney, J. A. (2004). The emergence of collaborative brain function: fMRI studies of the development of response inhibition. In Dahl, R. E. & Spear, L. P. (Eds.), Adolescent brain development: Vulnerabilities and opportunities (pp. 296–309). New York: New YorkAcademy of Sciences.
Lynch, J., & Smith, G. D. (2005). A life course approach to chronic disease epidemiology. Annual ReviewPublic Health, 26, 1–35.
Mallon, L., Broman, J. E., & Jerker Het, L. (2000). Sleeping difficulties in relation to depression and anxiety in elderly adults. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 54, 355–360.
Miller, A. L., & Olson, S. L. (2000). Emotional expressiveness during peer conflicts: A predictor of social maladjustment among high-risk preschoolers. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 339–352.
Millman, R. P. (2005). Excessive sleepiness in adolescents and young adults: Causes, consequences, and treatment strategies. Pediatrics, 115, 1774–1786.
Perlis, M. L., Smith, L. J., Lyness, J. M., Matteson, S. R., Pigeon, W. R., Jungquist, C., & Tu, W. (2006). Insomnia as a risk factor for onset of depression in the elderly. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 4, 104–113.
Pérez-Edgar, K., & Fox, N. A. (2005). Temperament and anxiety disorders. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14, 681–706.
Pilcher, J. J., & Huffcutt, A. I. (1996). Effects of sleep deprivation on performance: A meta-analysis. Sleep, 19, 318–326.
Roberts, R. E., Roberts, C. R., & Chen, I. G. (2002). Impact of insomnia on future functioning of adolescents. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 53, 561–569.
Roseman, I. J., Dhawan, N., Rettek, S. I., Naidu, R. K., & Thapa, K. (1995). Cultural differences and cross-cultural similarities in appraisals and emotional responses. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 26, 23–48.
Rothbart, M. K., Ziaie, H., & O'Boyle, C. G. (1992). Self-regulation and emotion in infancy. New Directions for Child Development, 55, 7–23.
Rubin, K. H., Burgess, K. B., & Hastings, P. D. (2002). Stability and social-behavioral consequences of toddlers' inhibited temperament and parenting behaviors. Child Development, 73, 483–495.
Sabbagh, M., Xu, F., Carlson, S. M., Moses, L. J., & Lee, K. (2006). The development of executive functioning and theory of mind: A comparison of Chinese and U.S. preschoolers. Psychological Science, 17, 74–81.
Sameroff, A. J. (1983). Developmental systems: Contexts and evolution. In Mussen, P. H. (Series Ed.) & Kessen, W. (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychiatry: Vol. 1. History, theories, and methods (pp. 237–294). New York: Wiley.
Sameroff, A. J., & Chandler, M. J. (1975). Reproductive risk and the continuum of caretaking casuality. In Horowitz, F. D., Hetherington, M., Scarr-Salapatek, S., & Seigel, G. (Eds.), Review of child developmental research: Vol. 4 (pp. 187–244). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sameroff, A. J., & MacKenzie, M. J. (2003). Research strategies for capturing transactional models of development: The limits of the possible. Developmental Psychopathology, 15(3), 613–640.
Sameroff, A. J., Seifer, R., Barocas, R., Zax, M., & Greenspan, S. (1987). Intelligent quotient scores of 4-year-old children: Social-environmental risk factors. Pediatrics, 79, 343–350.
Spiegel, K., Tasali, E., Penev, P., & Cauter, E. (2004). Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Annals of Internal Medicine, 141, 846–850.
Stevens, C., & Neville, H. (2006). Neuroplasticity as a double-edge sword: Deaf enhancements and dyslexia in motion processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 701–714.
Stickgold, R. (2005). Sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Nature, 437, 1272–1278.
Tang, N. K., & Harvey, A. G. (2004). Effects of cognitive arousal and physiological arousal on sleep perception. Sleep, 27, 69–78.
Tardif, T., So, C. W.-C., & Kaciroti, N. (2007). Language and false belief: Evidence for general, not specific effects in Cantonese-speaking preschoolers. Developmental Psychology, 43, 318–340.
Thompson, R. A. (1994). Emotion regulation: A theme in search of definition. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(240, nos. 2–3), 25–52.
Thompson, R. A., & Calkins, S. D. (1996). The double-edged sword: Emotional regulation for children at risk. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 163–182.
Tynjala, J., Kannas, L., & Levalahti, E. (1997). Perceived tiredness among adolescents and its association with sleep habits and use of psychoactive substances. Journal of Sleep Research, 6, 189–198.
Vasey, M. W., Dalgleish, T., & Silverman, W. K. (2003). Research on information-processing factors in child and adolescent psychopathology: A critical commentary. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 32, 81–93.
Weissman, M. M., Greenwald, S., Nino-Murcia, G., & Dement, W. C. (1997). The morbidity of insomnia uncomplicated by psychiatric disorders. General Hospital Psychiatry, 19, 245–250.
Wong, M. M., Brower, K. J., Fitzgerald, H. E., & Zucker, R. A. (2004). Sleep problems in early childhood and early onset of alcohol and other drug use in adolescence. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 28, 578–587.
Zohar, D., Tzischinsky, O., Epstein, R., & Lavie, P. (2005). The effects of sleep loss on medical residents' emotional reactions to work events: A cognitive-energy model. Sleep, 28, 47–54.