According to Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making, regulating one’s thinking, emotions, and behavior is critical for success in school, work, and life (2010). A child who stops playing and begins cleaning up when asked or spontaneously shares a toy with a classmate, has regulated thoughts, emotions, and behavior (Bronson 2000).
From infancy, humans automatically look in the direction of a new or loud sound. Many other regulatory functions become automatic, but only after a period of intentional use. On the other hand, intentional practice is required to learn how to regulate and coordinate the balance and motor movements needed to ride a bike. Typically, once one learns, the skill becomes automatic.
The process of moving from intentional to automatic regulation is called internalization. Some regulated functions, such as greeting others appropriately or gollowing a sequence to solve a math problem, always require intentional effort. It is not surprising then that research has found that young children who engage in intentional self-regulation learn more and go further in their education (Blair & Diamond 2008).
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