Longitudinal relations among household Chaos, SES, and effortful control in the prediction of language skills in early childhood

Bridget M. Lecheile, Tracy L. Spinrad, Xiaoye Xu, Jamie Lopez, Nancy Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Previous research has shown that home environment plays an important role in children's early language skills. Yet, few researchers have examined the unique role of family-level factors (socioeconomic status [SES], household chaos) on children's learning or focused on the longitudinal processes that might explain their relations to children's early language skills. The goal of this study was to investigate the longitudinal relations from family SES, household chaos, and children's effortful control (EC) to children's language skills during early childhood, controlling for stability of the constructs. At Time (T1 i.e., 30 months), mothers reported family SES and children's vocabulary, and their own linguistic input was assessed during a free-play session with their child. At T1, T2 (i.e., 42 months), and T3 (i.e., 54 months), household chaos was reported by mothers, and children's EC was rated by mothers and nonparental caregivers and observed during a gift-delay task. At T3, children's expressive and receptive language skills were measured with a standard assessment. Path analyses indicated that higher SES predicted higher levels of EC at T2 and language skills at T3, and greater levels of household chaos at T2 predicted poorer EC and language skills a year later, even when controlling for stability of the constructs. Results indicated that T2 EC partially mediated the relations between SES and T3 language skills. Findings from this study can be used to identify key factors for early learning and perhaps inform programs designed to support families and young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-738
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Effortful control
  • Household chaos
  • Language skills
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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