TitleIntroduction to the Special Issue: Self-Regulation Across Different Cultural Contexts
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMcClelland, MM, Wanless, SB
JournalEarly Education and Development
Pagination609 - 614
Date Published07/2015

In recent years, children’s self-regulation has emerged as a crucial area of interest in the education of young children. In particular, with the increased academic focus of many early school environments, self-regulation has been highlighted as a fundamental component of school readiness and success. Although most children move from preschool or child care to more structured school settings with relative ease, a large number of children without adequate self-regulation experience difficulty once they get to formal schooling. This is particularly important because self-regulation predicts a variety of social and academic outcomes in young children (e.g., Blair & Razza, 2007; McClelland et al., 2014). Thus, many young children enter formal schooling without the skills needed to be successful. Moreover, children’s self-regulation improves dramatically during the early childhood years, making this an important period for growth. Although a large body of research has demonstrated the importance of early self-regulation for later school success, the majority of this research has been conducted in the United States, and it is unclear how culture plays a role in these relations. Examining children’s development of self-regulation across cultures has gained increasing attention in Europe and Asia in recent years (Trommsdorff, 2009; von Suchodoletz et al., 2013; Wanless et al., 2013), and emerging evidence suggests that self-regulation development may be contextually specific, as experiences, values, and expectations differ across contexts and cultures. Given the importance of self-regulation for children’s academic success, it is especially important to identify factors that influence self-regulation development in different cultural contexts. This can facilitate experts’ understanding of self-regulation within each culture and inform culture-specific interventions and policies. It is also important to consider the universal patterns that may emerge across cultures. Supplementing culturally specific findings, some research that examines commonalities across cultures finds more variation within cultures than between (von Suchodoletz et al., 2013; Wanless, McClelland, Tominey, & Acock, 2011). Although this is not the case in all cross-cultural research (Keller et al., 2004; Lan, Legare, Cameron Ponitz, Li, & Morrison, 2011), it suggests that research examining variation within and across cultures is needed to fully understand children’s self-regulation. This special issue examines the concept of self-regulation in different cultural contexts and contains articles from a diverse group of countries, including countries in northern and southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and North and South America. These articles present studies of (a) the development of self-regulation in a variety of cultural contexts, (b) influences and outcomes of self-regulation, (c) multiple approaches to measures and methods, and (d) intervention efforts to improve these skills. Collectively, the articles contribute to a more culturally informed understanding of the factors predicting children’s self-regulation growth and ways to promote self-regulation in young children around the world.