TitlePreschoolers’ Motor and Verbal Self-Control Strategies During a Resistance-to-Temptation Task
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsManfra, L, Chandler, KD, Ducenne, L, Winsler, A
JournalThe Journal of Genetic Psychology
Pagination332 - 345
Date Published07/2014

Although prior research has shown that young children exhibit enhanced self-control when they use verbal strategies provided through adult instructions, little work has examined the role of children's spontaneous verbalizations or motor behavior as strategies for enhancing self-control. The present study examined the usefulness of spontaneous verbal and motor strategies for 39 3- and 4-year-old children's ability to exercise self-control during a resistance-to-temptation task. After a 2-min play period, participants were asked by an experimenter not to touch an attractive train set while he was out of the room. Children were videotaped during the 3-min waiting period and videos were coded for frequency and duration of touches, motor movements, and verbalizations. Results indicated that self-control was improved by using both motor and verbal strategies. Children who were unable to resist touching the forbidden toy used limited motor or verbal strategies. These findings add to the growing literature demonstrating the positive role of verbalizations on cognitive control and draw attention to motor behaviors as additional strategies used by young children to exercise self-control.