Mother-toddler interaction and the development of self-regulation in a limit-setting context

Elizabeth A. LeCuyer-Maus, Gail M. Houck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The Prohibition Coding Scheme was used to longitudinally assess observations of maternal and toddler limit-setting interactions at 12, 24, and 36 months. The final sample consisted of 126 mother-toddler dyads. Toddler behavior in a limit-setting context exemplified progressing skill in self-regulation from 12 to 36 months. Specifically, toddlers exhibited less persistence, increasing autonomy, and increasing ability to inhibit their behavior, with half of the toddlers classified as "autonomous- compliant" by 36 months of age. As a group, mothers also adapted their socializing behavior during toddlerhood, decreasing their use of directive structure and distractions, and using more cognitive strategies. A maternal "teaching-based", limit-setting pattern was associated with more competent toddler response-to-limits patterns at each age, and more mothers used a teaching-based limit-setting style by 36 months of age. These findings provide validity for the Prohibition Coding Scheme and extend our knowledge base for guiding parents in their socializing strategies relative to developing self-regulation. Clinical implications and areas for further research are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-200
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of pediatric nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics


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