Relations of children's effortful control and teacher-child relationship quality to school attitudes in a low-income sample

Kassondra M. Silva, Tracy Spinrad, Nancy Eisenberg, Michael J. Sulik, Carlos Valiente, Snjezana Huerta, Alison Edwards, Natalie Wilkens, Anne S. Kupfer, Christopher J. Lonigan, Beth M. Phillips, Shauna B. Wilson, Jeanine Clancy-Menchetti, Susan H. Landry, Paul R. Swank, Michael A. Assel, Heather B. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Research Findings: The purpose of this study was to examine the relations of children's effortful control and quality of relationships with teachers to school attitudes longitudinally in an ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged sample. Data were collected as part of a larger intervention project during mid-fall, winter, and late spring (ns1/4823, 722, and 758, respectively) for 2 cohorts of 3- to 5-year-olds (collected during 2 different school years). Children's effortful control was assessed in the fall with parents' and teachers' reports and 2 behavioral measures. Teacher-child relationship quality was assessed mid-year with teachers' reports of closeness and conflict. Attitudes toward school were assessed in late spring using teachers' and students' reports of school avoidance and liking. Effortful control, in general, was positively correlated with teacher-child closeness and school liking and negatively correlated with conflict and school avoidance. Using structural equation modeling and controlling for sex and ethnicity, we found that effortful control was positively related to teacher-child relationship quality, which in turn was positively related to school attitudes. Furthermore, the relation of effortful control to school attitudes was mediated by teacher-child relationship quality. Practice or Policy: Results provide evidence for the importance of relational processes that take place within the classroom context and have implications for teachers and clinicians working to increase school success in ethnic minority and low-income children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-460
Number of pages27
JournalEarly education and development
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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