A Systematic Scoping Review of Pre-School Self-Regulation Interventions from a Self-Determination Theory Perspective

Publication Name

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Self-regulation (SR) is considered foundational in early life, with robust evidence demon-strating a link between early self-regulation and longer-term outcomes. This has been the impetus for a growing body of intervention research into how best to support early SR development, yet approaches and effects are diverse, which complicates an understanding of the critical characteristics for effective early SR intervention. Using Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as a guiding framework, we present a scoping review of early SR-intervention research to identify the characteristics of pre-school interventions that show significant and strong effects on young children’s SR. Studies from peer-reviewed journal articles were included if they evaluated a SR intervention with pre-school children, were published between 2010 and 2020, written in English, and included a SR outcome measure. This yielded 19 studies, each reporting the efficacy of a different SR intervention. Results showed that content factors (what interventions do) interacted with their implementation (how, when, and by whom interventions are implemented) to discriminate the more versus less efficacious interventions. Through the lens of SDT, results further suggested that targeting competence through encouragement and feedback, and nurturing children’s autonomy distinguished more from less effective interventions. Relatedness was least able to discriminate intervention efficacy.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Sponsor

University of Wollongong



Link to publisher version (DOI)