Neuroscientists have found parts of the brain that regulate it. Geneticists are searching for the genes associated with it. Psychologists are studying how young children develop it. Health researchers report that it’s linked to adult health and mortality.
I have spent almost 40 years in courtrooms hearing the life stories of men and women convicted of crimes. I also listen to expert psychological testimony about the developmental causes of their behavior.
Your child’s first years are a crucial time for social and emotional development. Children are not born with the ability to recognize their emotions, control their behavior, or understand the social world around them. These fundamental social and emotional skills — like most others — must be learned through experience.
Self-control — having the ability to regulate your own behavior — is an important life skill with long-term benefits. Research shows that children who exhibit self-control tend to have fewer behavior problems in school and are less likely to struggle with aggression, anxiety, and depression. Self-control has also been linked to school readiness.
Self-control is a skill all children need to learn in order to fit into and function successfully in society. When a child is able to control his impulses and modify his behavior when necessary, he tends to have better critical thinking skills, to be more ready for school, and to have better relationships later in life. Children may seem to show a complete lack of self-control, but they are learning early self-regulation skills that form the basis for later self-control.
Adaptability is a vital trait for the human species. Being adaptable lets us modify our behavior to meet challenges and work through complex tasks with confidence instead of anxiety. On the flipside, inflexible people walk a hard path. They can’t adapt to difficulties and are frequently derailed by change.