Starting at birth, babies begin the life-long process of learning about themselves and the world around them. From the very start, they are acquiring skills that are necessary for navigating the social world successfully. These skills are commonly grouped under the term self-control or self-regulation.
A recent newspaper headline heralded budget meetings between the Shelby County Board of Commissioners and Shelby County Schools officials, but the real headline for us was at the bottom of the story.
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.