Lever pressing of children from three age groups (2(1/2) to 4, 5 to 6(1/2), and 7(1/2) to 9 years) could produce reinforcers according to a fixed-interval 40-s schedule: (1) Some were instructed to respond at a high rate, others at a low rate, and (2) they were subsequently taught to provide their own spoken self-instructions consonant with the earlier, experimenter-supplied instructions. All subjects who received high-rate instructions responded at a steady, high rate, which was maintained following self-instructional training. The effects of low-rate instructions were directly related to the age of the children. The two older groups produced low-rate patterns, with the oldest children responding at very low rates; effects were least noticeable in the youngest age group. Following self-instructional training, all three groups showed adult-like low-rate behavior and the oldest children showed an improved ability to estimate the interval length. The results provide further evidence of the importance of language as a determinant of human behavior.