Understanding the role of negative emotionality in the development of executive functioning (EF) and language skills can help identify developmental windows that may provide promising opportunities for intervention. In addition, because EF and language skills are, in part, genetically influenced, intergenerational transmission patterns are important to consider. The prospective parent–offspring adoption design used in this study provides a unique opportunity to examine the intergenerational transmission of EF and language skills. Participants were 561 children adopted around the time of birth. Accounting for birth mother EF and language contributions, we examined the role of child negative emotionality in toddlerhood (age 9 to 27 months) and childhood (age 4.5 to 7 years) on child EF and language skills in first grade (age 7 years). There was continuity in EF from age 27 months to 7 years, and in language ability from age 27 months to 7 years, with no cross-lagged effects between child EF and language ability. Negative emotionality at age 9 months predicted lower EF and lower language abilities at age 7 years, and growth in negative emotionality from age 4.5 to 7 years predicted lower child EF at age 7 years. Overall, findings suggested that lower negative emotionality at age 9 months was associated with higher toddler and child EF and language skills and that preventing growth in negative emotionality from age 4.5 to 7 years may lead to improvements in child EF.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies