Maternal limit setting during toddlerhood, delay of gratification, and behavior problems at age five

Gail M. Houck, Elizabeth A. Lecuyer-Maus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations


In this study, self-regulation was examined in relation to maternal limit setting during toddlerhood. Observational coding of limit-setting interactions was carried out at 12, 24, and 36 months using the Prohibition Coding Scheme (Houck & LeCuyer, 1995; LeCuyer-Maus & Houck, 2002). At five years, self-regulation was assessed by observation of self-imposed delay-of- gratification (Shoda, Mischel, & Peake, 1990), and behavior problems were measured by maternal report on a behavior checklist (CBCL; Achenbach, 1991). Maternal limit-setting patterns at every age differentiated subsequent duration of delay, but not behavior problems. A power-based maternal pattern in limit setting adversely affected later self-imposed delay. Although an indirect limit-setting pattern optimized the child's delay duration, a teaching-based pattern yielded more consistently positive outcomes at 36 months and normative delay durations at age five years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-46
Number of pages19
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this