Regulation of emotion and behavior among 3- and 5-year-olds

Maria D. Kalpidou, Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA.
Thomas G. Power
Katie E. Cherry
Nathan W. Gottfried


In this cross-sectional study, the authors examined the relationship between emotion and behavior regulation in 3- and 5-year olds. Eighty-seven children performed a compliance sorting task. The authors manipulated the demand for emotion regulation by presenting and then hiding toys (low) or making toys visible (high). Mothers and teachers rated children's coping responses. Five-year-olds sorted less in the high condition than in the low condition, and 3-year-olds spent equal time sorting in both conditions. Compliance was positively correlated with problem-focused coping and negatively correlated with emotion-focused coping. Correlations between emotion and behavior regulation were stronger for the 5-year-olds. Age groups were differently affected by the higher demands of emotion regulation, indicating that the child's resources for regulation interact with the task demands to determine behavioral outcome.