It's OK to Fail: Individual and Dyadic Regulatory Antecedents of Mastery Motivation in Preschool. Academic Article uri icon


  • 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 versus 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 versus 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.

author list (cited authors)

  • Lunkenheimer, E., & Wang, J.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017 11:11 AM