Self-regulation is a critical competency that underlies the mindful, intentional, and thoughtful behaviors of younger and older children alike. The term self-regulation (sometimes also called executive function) refers to the capacity to control one’s impulses, both to stop doing something, if needed (even if one wants to continue doing it) and to start doing something, if needed (even if one doesn’t want to do it). Self-regulation is not to be confused with obedience or compliance; when children are truly self-regulated they behave the same way whether or not an adult is watching. Self-regulated children can delay gratification and suppress their impulses long enough to think ahead to the possible consequences of their actions or to consider alternative actions that would be more appropriate. Self-regulation is not limited to the social-emotional domain; it can also apply to cognitive behaviors, such as remembering or paying attention. In fact, research indicates that these two facets of self regulation are related: children who cannot control their emotions at age four are unlikely to be able to follow the teachers’ directions at age six, and will not become reflective learners in middle and high school.
Dr. Hussein Abdelfatah © Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved