Self-regulation and Success

Parenting Blog

November 12, 2015

In the Canadian province of Ontario, self-regulation is a core goal in their new all day kindergarten curriculum. Whereas IQ was the predictor of success in the 20th century; in the 21st century, it's self-regulation. It is increasingly accepted that self-regulation is learned through play. Self-regulation is the ability to control one's impulses and to delay gratification. It is a matter of inhibiting some behaviors and engaging in particular behaviors on demand. For example, children know that they should use their words instead of hands (hitting, shoving or grabbing) to get what they want, but only the children who have self-regulation can practice this skill, using their words and inhibiting the use of hands. According to Bodrova and Leong's article in the national magazine Young Children, children learn self-regulation best when engaged in activities in which "children rather than adults set, negotiate and follow the rules." Simply put, that's what is learned in creative free play. Self-regulation is the fundamental skill that allows children to learn other skills and succeed in school and in life. If you have ever watched children engaged deeply in play, you have seen them enter a "calm and alert, but focused state." That state affects brain wiring and increases the ability to access that state again. Self-regulation is bigger than IQ, so Ontario is giving it its due. Kudos to our neighbors across the river!

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