Adolescent Self-Regulation and the Influence of Peer Victimization: Examining Dynamic Interactions
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Self-regulation is essential for successful social functioning, yet more remains to be understood about the influence of peers on this important developmental skill. This study examined the influence of verbal peer victimization on the growth of self-regulation across four years of early adolescence using parallel process growth modeling. For all adolescents, higher levels of self-regulation buffered early adolescents from the effects of negative peer interactions. In addition, early adolescents with initially low levels of self-regulation also had higher levels of depression and experienced higher levels of peer victimization than their better regulated peers. Importantly the Family Check-Up, a brief preventative intervention, resulted in improvements in self-regulation that was sustained over time. The relationship between peer victimization and self-regulation was not predictive; however, a significant persisting association was observed suggesting that improvements in adolescent self-regulation abilities help buffer youth from the impact of negative peer interactions. This research highlights the importance of the social context on the development of self-regulation during adolescence and contributes novel findings of the effect of contextual variables on self-regulation development. These findings support an ecological prevention approach, including family-centered intervention and social-emotional curricula, to promote increased self-regulation and reduce peer victimization among adolescents.