Foundations: Self Regulation
- Self-regulation includes a set of skills that allows a child to manage his emotions, control his actions, and maintain focus and attention on a task.
- Children develop at different rates in all of the developmental stages and this is true for self-regulation as well. It is a complex process that is influenced by the child’s temperament, environment, and experiences.
- Emotional self-regulation is involved in how we feel emotions, how we pay attention to emotions, how we think about these feelings and how we behave. Young children gradually learn how to manage their feelings. This leads to effectively interacting with peers and adults when they are upset, frustrated, or otherwise over-stimulated.
- Behavioral self-regulation includes the ability to inhibit one’s actions. Examples include remembering and following rules, not hitting or biting, and sharing in play.
- Cognitive self-regulation is the most complex and last to develop. It begins to appear in four-year-olds as they develop their ability to plan (e.g., what they are going to do) and utilize proper responses (e.g., listening when a story is read).
- These skills are integral to how a child comes to feel about herself and her relationships with others, her ability to cope in the face of frustration, disappointment, stress and uncertainty, and her mental health. In addition, many of the behaviors and attributes associated with successful school adjustment are related to self-regulation skills. Popular psychologist Daniel Goleman is a great exponent of research showing that self-regulation capabilities are the biggest single determinant of life outcomes. These skills are integral in how a child comes to feel about herself and her relationships with others, her ability to cope in the face of frustration, disappointment, stress and uncertainty, and her mental health.