Mother-child coregulation during delay of gratification at 30 months

Samuel P. Putnam, Becky L. Spritz, Cynthia A. Stifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Fifty-eight 30-month-old children and their mothers were observed during a task in which the child was asked to refrain from touching an attractive toy. Child and maternal regulatory strategies were independently coded in 5-sec intervals. Consistent with past research, the ability to refrain from touching the toy was associated with less time orienting to the forbidden object and more time focusing on other stimuli. Mothers of children who refrained from touching the toy were more likely to use distraction as a technique to assist in their children's regulation than were mothers of touchers, whereas mothers of children who transgressed used more nondistracting strategies than did mothers of nontouchers. Analysis of contingent behaviors suggested that mothers and children effectively coregulated behavior during this challenging situation, as children and mothers followed one another's lead in the allocation of attention away from the toy. These findings indicate the benefits of proactive, rather than reactive, parental strategies for assisting child delay of gratification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-225
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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