Developmental risk and young children's regulatory strategies: Predicting behavior problems at age five

Emily D. Gerstein, Anita Pedersen Y Arbona, Keith Crnic, Ehri Ryu, Bruce L. Baker, Jan Blacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Children with early developmental delays are at heightened risk for behavior problems and comorbid psychopathology. This study examined the trajectories of regulatory capabilities and their potentially mediating role in the development of behavior problems for children with and without early developmental delays. A sample of 231 children comprised of 137 typically developing children and 94 children with developmental delays were examined during mildly frustrating laboratory tasks across the preschool period (ages 3-5). Results indicated that children with delays had greater use of maladaptive strategies (distraction, distress venting) and lower use of adaptive strategies (constructive coping) than typically developing children. For both groups, strategies had similar rates of growth across time; maladaptive strategies decreased and adaptive strategies increased. The intercept of strategy use, but not the slope, was found to mediate the relation between developmental risk and externalizing behaviors. Findings support that dysregulation, rather than the developmental risk, may be responsible for the high levels of comorbid psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-364
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Emotion regulation
  • Externalizing problems
  • Growth curves
  • Intellectual disability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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