UW Today

This is an archived article.

March 13, 2008

300 Seattle-area families sought for study on how children learn self-control

Researchers trying to understand how young children develop the ability to control their attention, behaviors and emotions are looking for 300 Seattle-area families to participate in a new study.

The $1.2 million study is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and will explore the role parents and families play in promoting self-control in preschool-age children, according to Liliana Lengua, a University of Washington associate professor of psychology who is directing the work.

“These skills are critical for children’s positive social development, but we know little about how children gain them,” she said.

“We want to identify the things that parents and families can do to facilitate children’s positive adjustment through encouraging self-control in families representing the full range of income levels. The different experiences associated with various levels of family income, or socioeconomic level, may help shape the development of self-control skills.”

For the study, the UW researchers are looking for 100 families whose income is below the poverty level, 100 low-income families and 100 middle- to upper-income families.

To be eligible for the study, families must have a child between 2½ and 3 years of age and be available at the UW for four assessments over 2½ years. Participating families will be assessed once every nine months over that time span. During each assessment mothers will fill out a questionnaire about their child and will be observed during a play session with her child. Families that participate in all four assessments can earn $520 for their time and effort.

Parents who would like to participate in the study with their child or who have questions may call (206) 616-5768 or e-mail go123@u.washington.edu.

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For more information, contact Lengua at (206) 543-5655 or liliana@u.washington.edu  or Rebecca Cortes, project director, at (206) 616-1236 or rcortes@u.washington.edu