Maternal limit-setting in toddlerhood: Socialization strategies for the development of self-regulation

Elizabeth LeCuyer, Gail M. Houck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Early findings from the Prohibition Coding Scheme (PCS; Houck & LeCuyer, 1995; LeCuyer-Maus & Houck, 2002; Medvin & Spieker, 1985) revealed that maternal limit-setting styles with toddlers were differentially related to later child social competence, self-concept, and delay of gratification. For this study, the PCS was revised to provide more information about the specific strategies mothers used during limit-setting in relation to those outcomes. Results from the PCS-Revised (PCS-R; LeCuyer & Houck, 2004) included that the more time mothers spent actively distracting their toddlers away from a prohibited object during limit-setting, as early as 12 months, the longer their children could delay gratification at age 5 years. Mothers who spent more time sensitively following and being engaged in their toddler's own interests (other than the prohibited object), again as early as 12 months, had more socially competent children with more developed self-concepts at age 3 years. Maternal use of reasoning statements later in toddlerhood also related to higher levels of social competence. Maternal limits and prohibitions were not related to these outcomes, and appeared to contribute to the development of self-regulation mainly by creating the opportunity for the use of other, less directive strategies. The findings indicate that these strategies may be important to include in intervention programs for the promotion of toddler and child development of self-regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-370
Number of pages27
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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