Co- and self-regulation in the caregiver-child dyad: Parental expectations, children’s compliance, and parental practices during early years

  • Sabrina Bechtel-Kuehne (Author)
  • C. Anna Strodthoff (Author)
  • Sabina Pauen (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


Self-regulation skills develop in early childhood and seem to be highly predictive of success in different areas of adult life. The present report explores how (a) parental expectations (beliefs, goals) regarding children’s self-regulation, (b) children’s self-regulation and compliance, and (c) parental co-regulation practices are related to each other. To assess these aspects, a new questionnaire (IMMA: Pauen et al. 2014) has been filled out by N = 132 parents of 1- to 6-year-old children. Our data revealed that parental self-regulation expectations increased with a child’s age, as did children’s self-regulation and compliance, as reported by parents. However, parental co-regulative strategies did not change with the age of the child and were not correlated with parents’ expectations. Nevertheless, we did find specific associations between children’s self- and parental co-regulation: Parents who described their child as arguing a lot, or showing only directed compliance also reported to use negative co-regulation strategies more often than parents who experienced their child as being more compliant. Furthermore, parents who perceived their child as ignoring external requests tended to withdraw more easily in situations involving a conflict of interests than parents reporting less child ignorance. In sum, these findings suggest that parental expectations, children’s self-regulation skills, and parental co-regulation strategies are related in systematic ways. Future studies using a longitudinal design should explore the causal nature of these relations in more detail.


self-regulation, co-regulation, caregiver-child dyad, parenting