Survival rates for children born with extremely low birth weight (ELBW) are increasing; however, many of these children experience later problems with learning. This study adopted an integrated approach to these problems, involving the self-regulatory tasks of inhibition and delay of gratification and relevant individual factors including cognitive and language skills. Thirty children born with ELBW and 36 full-term children at 2 years of age completed the self-regulatory tasks. Results indicated no differences between groups for the inhibition task; however, comparison children were better able to delay gratification than children with ELBW. Performance on both self-regulatory tasks improved as cognitive and language abilities increased and all self-regulatory tasks were correlated with cognitive and language abilities. Performance on the inhibition task was predicted by cognitive ability and language abilities, and all variables were approaching significance for predicting performance on the delay of gratification task. It is expected that the small sample size and wide variations in the developmental progression of self-regulation and associated factors at 2 years of age may have limited the strength of relationships found in this study.
School of Education, The University of Queensland (Ms Lynn and Dr Cuskelly) and Growth & Development Unit, Mater Mothers’ Hospital (Drs Gray and O'Callaghan), Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Correspondence: Monica Cuskelly, PhD, School of Education, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane 4072, Queensland, Australia (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This research was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant No. LP0775031 and Mater Misericordiae Health Services Brisbane Ltd.
No conflicts of interest are declared.