Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Interventions to promote young children's self-regulation and executive function skills in early childhood settings

Author: Sharmila Lawrence
Publication Date: November 2015

Self-regulation refers to the ability to control one's emotions, behaviors, and cognitions. Self-regulation includes both emotional regulation skills (the ability to moderate emotions through cognitive and behavioral strategies) and executive function skills (which include working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility). These components of self-regulation work together and have been shown to predict school readiness and academic performance. Previous research indicates that children who have difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviors have lower academic achievement and have been found to receive less instruction and to be less engaged in learning. Additionally, certain groups of children who display behavioral problems are more susceptible to being excluded from preschool. As a result early intervention that can target the promotion of self-regulation skills is important. In recognition of the importance that behavioral self-regulation and social-emotional development plays in improving outcomes for young children, the Office of Child Care recently released a Policy Memorandum to all State, Territorial and Tribal Lead Agencies administrating child care programs under the Child Care and Development Block Grant, highlighting state policies to promote the social-emotional and behavioral health of young children in child care settings. This Topic of Interest highlights research specifically focused on interventions to improve young children's self-regulation and executive function skills, in preschool and kindergarten settings. (author abstract)

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