Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Report 3: A Comprehensive Review of Self-Regulation Interventions From Birth Through Young Adulthood

Murray, D. W., Rosanbalm, K., & Christopoulos, C.
February, 2016

A Comprehensive Review of Self-Regulation Interventions From Birth Through Young Adulthood is the third in a series of four inter-related reports titled Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress. The first report, subtitled Foundations for Understanding Self-Regulation from an Applied Developmental Perspective, provides a comprehensive framework for understanding self-regulation in context, using a theoretical model that reflects the influence of biology, caregiving, and the environment on the development of self-regulation. The second report, A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stress, provides a cross-disciplinary review of research on the relationship between stress and self-regulation.

The present report describes results of a comprehensive review of self-regulation interventions from birth through young adulthood and summarizes the level of evidence for different interventions across age groups and outcome domains. In this report, we provide details on the methodological approach and data findings, including figures with detailed descriptions for the reader who is interested in the evidence base supporting our conclusions. These conclusions are repeated in our fourth report, Implications for Programs and Practice, with a more applied summary of the results organized by their implications for different types of programs. This third report therefore provides a more technical reference for the fourth report.

The overarching aim of this review was to inform the selection and use of self-regulation interventions within human services programs supported by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). For that reason, our focus was on universal and targeted interventions that could be used within the existing infrastructure of those human services programs, with particular attention to vulnerable populations living in adversity or with specific risk characteristics.

Our approach to this review was informed by the theoretical framework for understanding self-regulation development provided in the first report in this series, Foundations for Understanding Self-Regulation from an Applied Developmental Perspective. Studies were included if they either targeted self-regulation with an evidence-supported theoretical mechanism or directly measured cognitive or emotional self-regulation as an outcome. The two theoretical mechanisms of self-regulation development considered were 1) direct skills instruction in cognitive, emotional, or behavioral self-regulation and 2) enhancement of “co-regulation”, defined as a warm, responsive relationship in which a caregiver positively structures the environment and provides support, coaching, and modeling for self-regulation skills... more

Citation: Murray, D. W., Rosanbalm, K., & Christopoulos, C. (2016). Self-regulation and toxic stress report 3: A comprehensive review of self-regulation interventions from birth through young adulthood (OPRE Report 2016-34). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.