Socio-economic disadvantage is strongly associated with children’s emotional (internalising) and behavioural (externalising) problems. Self-regulation and verbal cognitive ability have been related to children’s emotional and behavioural resilience to socio-economic disadvantage. Despite being inter-related, self-regulation and verbal cognitive ability have not been examined jointly as promoting resilience in young children. This study investigated the roles of self-regulation and verbal cognitive ability in children’s emotional and behavioural resilience to family socio-economic disadvantage from early to middle childhood (ages 3, 5, and 7 years; N = 16,916; 49 % girls). Using multivariate response growth curve modelling, we found that the relationship between socio-economic disadvantage and internalising problems was stronger for children with lower verbal cognitive ability. Also, poor children with high and low levels of self-regulation showed a widening gap in both emotional and behavioural problems over time. Poor and non-poor children alike benefited from self-regulation, but poor children appeared to be more vulnerable to low self-regulation. Self-regulation and verbal cognitive ability seem to be important protective factors for young children growing up in poor families.