Children’s difficulties with self-regulation and behavior problems often interfere with their learning in school, the community, and at home. This has lifelong implications on their health, achievement, educational attainment, social status, and social-emotional adjustment. As a developmental psychologist, I am interested in understanding the development of young children’s behavioral adjustment and executive functions that enable them to flexibly adapt to daily stressors, such as social conflict, fatigue, and not getting what they want in the moment. Using a variety of research methods, I work with families, teachers, students, and university staff to understand how children’s social environments impact their behavior and are influenced by it. By knowing what contributes to children’s maladjustment and chronic illnesses, policies can be developed to help prevent them before they are more difficult to treat.
School success can significantly increase opportunities for positive developmental outcomes across the lifespan, but unfortunately, children do not come to school equally prepared and ready to learn. As a former school counselor, my research focuses on the examination and elimination of barriers to school readiness in early childhood and later academic engagement. Currently, I am working on projects to identify the influence of young children’s screen time on school readiness through self-control and language acquisition – powerful predictors of later academic success – and to support children who have experienced trauma so that they may reap the full range of benefits offered by their schools and communities.