It’s OK to Fail: Individual and Dyadic Regulatory Antecedents of Mastery Motivation in Preschool

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Abstract

Mastery motivation is closely related to children’s regulatory processes and is socialized by parents. However, we know little about how individual child and dyadic parent-child regulatory processes work together to foster the early development of mastery motivation in preschool. The present study examined dyadic persistence in parent-child interactions, children’s effortful control, and children’s successful vs. failed attempts in a challenging object mastery task at age 3.5 years and their prediction of teacher ratings of object-oriented and social mastery motivation in preschool at a 4-month follow-up (N = 100). Path analytic models revealed that greater dyadic persistence during parent-child interactions predicted children’s higher levels of social mastery. A greater rate of both successful and failed attempts at a challenging task predicted children’s higher levels of object mastery. However, failed attempts were positively related to concurrent individual and dyadic regulatory measures, whereas successful attempts were not. Findings suggest that parent-child coregulation makes a significant contribution to mastery motivation development and that there may be distinct antecedents for object-oriented vs. social forms of mastery motivation. Findings also suggest that a child’s early ability to persist in the face of failure may be an important predictor of mastery motivation in preschool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1490
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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