A Systematic Review of Executive Function and Emotion Regulation Studies in Early Childhood

Üzüm S., Demircan H. Ö.

30th European Early Childhood Education Research Conference (EECERA), Zagreb, Croatia, 1 - 17 September 2021

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Zagreb
  • Country: Croatia
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This systematic review aims to synthesize findings from studies that presented information on the relationship between executive function and emotion regulation of children between zero and eight years old and expose the potential contributions of this relationship to early childhood education. There is a lack of work to understand bidirectional associations between emotion and cognition better (Gray, 2004). Accordingly, the study aimed to shed light on the progress in the literature. Cognitive reasoning, comprehension, and action processes may control the emotional actions of a child. Emotion can also be interpreted as a behavioral organizer, effectively adjusting the child's thought, learning, and action. Cognition and emotion are, therefore, inseparable components of the process of development (Calkins & Bell, 2010). Diverse combinations of the "executive function," "emotion regulation," and "early childhood," terms have been searched for related studies in eight databases. As an outcome of the search and review processes, the study includes 21 peer-reviewed research articles published between 2000 to 2020. In this review, no human subject took part and no permission has been taken. The studies in the literature mostly centered on three common characteristics, namely home-related factors, school-related factors, and developmental domains. This review revealed that studies on disadvantage and socio-economic level are mostly associated with the children's home environment, but there are few studies on the school environment of the children. Additionally, it draws attention that there is a lack of developmental interpretations in school-related studies and a lack of school-related interpretation in the studies related to developmental domains.