Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stress

Publication Date: March 16, 2015


This is the second in a series of four inter-related reports titled Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress. The first report, 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. This second report, A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stress builds on the theoretical framework described in the earlier report. It reviews literature on the impact of stress on self-regulation development, addressing questions such as how lasting these effects may be, if there are particular periods of development that are more sensitive to its effects, and how individual differences moderate the impact of stress on self-regulation. The paper also examines data on environmental and contextual factors that may increase vulnerability to or protect children from the effects of stress.

The third report, A Comprehensive Review of Self-Regulation Interventions from Birth through Young Adulthood will describe the strength of evidence for interventions to promote self-regulation for universal and targeted populations across development. The fourth and final report, Implications for Programs and Practice will consider implications of findings from the prior reports for programs supported by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). 

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