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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume I, Wellbeing in Children and Families by Cary L. Cooper, Susan H. Landry

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2

Children's Self-Regulation and Executive Control

Critical for Later Years

Caron A. C. Clark

University of Oregon, U.S.A.

Miriam M. Martinez and Jennifer Mize Nelson

University of Nebraska–Lincoln, U.S.A.

Sandra A. Wiebe

University of Alberta, Canada

Kimberly Andrews Espy

University of Oregon, U.S.A.

In everyday life, we are challenged continually to modulate our thoughts, behavior, and emotions in accordance with goals, social norms, and expectations. This ability to self-regulate has broad bearing on our competence and functioning. Indeed, deficits in the effective self-regulation of thoughts, emotions, and behavior are defining features of many psychological disorders. Not surprisingly then, self-regulation is a critical area of interest for developmental science.

Expectations for self-regulation change dramatically over the course of childhood, and particularly in the first few years of life. Although, normatively, toddlers are expected to throw tantrums in the supermarket when denied a particular goody, this behavior is considered unacceptable from an adult. These age-related differences reflect a progression from behavior that is reflexive and modulated externally to behavior that is controlled internally in a voluntary manner (Kopp, 1982). For instance, a toddler is critically dependent on her caregiver to monitor her safety and social behavior. Although she may be responsive to instructions, ultimately these guidelines for her behavior emanate from an external source. ...

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