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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The preschool years are a critical time for the development of emotion regulation, which is vital for children’s intellectual and social growth. Children with behavior problems are at particular risk of developing poor regulatory skills. Understanding factors underlying emotion dysregulation in children with behavior problems is therefore important for fostering children’s emotional development. Although theory and research suggest executive function may be important in this regard, its role among children at-risk for emotion dysregulation remains unclear. The goal of the current study was to examine whether executive function predicted trajectories of emotion dysregulation from age 3 to age 5 among children with behavior problems. This study focused on 199 3-year-old children with behavior problems who took part in a larger longitudinal study. Results revealed that response inhibition and working memory were not predictive of later emotion dysregulation. However, children who exhibited worse delay of gratification at ages 3 and 4 had greater symptoms of externalizing emotion dysregulation at age 5. In addition, children who made more omission errors on a test of attentional control at ages 3 and 4 exhibited greater externalizing emotion dysregulation at age 5. Gender differences emerged on two measures of delay of gratification and one measure of attentional control. Results suggest that specific facets of executive function may play an important role in difficulties with emotion dysregulation across the preschool years and that this pattern may differ across boys and girls.


First Advisor

Elizabeth A Harvey