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Adult caregivers such as parents, teachers, coaches, and other mentors play a critical role in shaping and supporting self-regulation development from birth through young adulthood through an interactive process called “co-regulation.”
This snapshot summarizes key concepts about self-regulation development and intervention for elementary-aged children for practitioners and educators interested in promoting self-regulation for this age group. It is based on a series of four reports on Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress prepared for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Visit the Toxic Stress and Self-Regulation Reports page for more information.
Self-regulation skills developing in elementary-aged children:
- Use of self-talk to control behavior
- Cognitive flexibility/problem-solving
- Attentional control/sustained focus
- Increased delay of gratification
- Managing emotion “in the moment”
- Goals and behavior guided by empathy and concern for others
- Organization of behavior to achieve goals
- Completion of larger and more complex tasks
Key considerations for promoting self-regulation in elementary-aged children:
- Encourage a positive school climate for all students
- Deliver self-regulation skills training in at-risk schools
- Train teachers and afterschool staff to teach, model, reinforce, and coach self-regulation skills
- Identify ways to support school and program staff’s own self-regulation capacity
- Provide parent education supports that address co-regulation
Murray, D.W. and Rosanbalm, K. (2017). Self-Regulation Snap Shot #3: A Focus on Elementary-Aged Children. OPRE Report #2018-12, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- The act of managing thoughts and feelings to enable goal-directed actions.
- The supportive process between caring adults and children, youth, or young adults that fosters self-regulation development.