Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The Importance of Self-Regulation Stuart G. Shanker Distinguished Research Professor Director, Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative.

Similar presentations


Presentation on theme: "The Importance of Self-Regulation Stuart G. Shanker Distinguished Research Professor Director, Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Importance of Self-Regulation Stuart G. Shanker Distinguished Research Professor Director, Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative

2 Duckworth & Seligman In 2005, Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman reported that self-discipline is a stronger predictor of school performance than IQ: not just in terms of grades, but school attendance, hours spent on homework, amount of time spent watching TV The average age of the children in Duckworth and Seligmans study was 13.4 years: How did these eighth-graders develop their self-discipline? 2

3 The Significance of Temperament Toddlers emotional intensity predicts effortful control at months (Kochanska & Knaack, 2003) The more easily an infant is frustrated the less well he performs on attentional tasks (Calkins & Johnson, 1998) The less anger 22 and 33 month-olds demonstrate in a frustrating task the better their inhibitory control (Kochanska et al., 2000) 3

4 Delay of Gratification Mischels famousmarshmallow test: child is told he can have one marshmallow now or several if he waits until experimenter comes back Around 30% of 4 year-olds can wait The children who could wait scored an average of 210 points better on their college entrance exams Not just academic achievement at stake: also predicts anti-social behavior and susceptibility to drugs (Mischel, Shoda & Rodriguez 1989) 4

5 Trajectories are Set Early Mischels test is telling us that already by the age of 4 children are beginning to differentiate in terms of their self-control Poor self-control, as early as the age of 4, can have a significant cascading effect The big question is: Why are some children having so much more trouble controlling their impulses And more to the point: What can we do about it? 5

6 The Development of Self- Control 1.Self-Control rests on a set of attentional, behavioral and emotion-regulating skills 2.Some children find it much more difficult than others to acquire these skills 3.The key is thought to lie in their ability to self- regulate 6

7 The Importance of Self-Regulation Over the past decade theres been an explosion of research on self-regulation in regards to a broad range of mental and physical problems Each is thought to have unique biological antecedents and/or environmental contingencies, and to follow a different developmental pathway Even within each disorder there is thought to be enormous variability in the pathways But each is thought to involve a problem in self- regulation, starting early in the childs life 7

8 Self- Regulation Develop- mental Disorders Internal- izing Problems External- izing Problems Cognitive Problems Risky Behaviour Obesity Cardiova s-cular disease Auto- immune disorders Cancer Education Outcomes

9 9 Secondary Altriciality Plasticity enables childs brain to be highly attuned to environment in which she is born Synaptic growth in first 2 years is massive There is a huge over-production of synapses that at 8 months will start to be pruned back Synaptic pruning is regulated by babys dyadic interactions with her caregivers

10 10 Neal Halfon Sound Vision Smell Touch Proprioception Taste

11 11 The Role of the Primary Caregiver in Early Brain Growth Baby isnt born with the ability to self-regulate These parts of the brain grow massively in the early years of life The primary caregiver serves as an external brain, regulating and stimulating the babys brain It is by being regulated that the baby develops the ability to self-regulate

12 12 Babies display innate mechanisms that promote dyadic interaction newborns are perceptually attuned to the face, voice, touch, taste, and even movements, with a marked preference shown to the primary caregiver They are drawn to their caregivers eyes: to the high energy field at the corners of the eyes They begin that quintessential vocalization for bringing a caregiver running, crying, within a half- hour of birth

13 13 Innate mechanisms in Caregiver Breastfeeding triggers oxytocin, enhancing bonding by producing pleasant sensations Adults have visceral response to sound of baby crying; typically pick up and soothe her mothers can distinguish between the crying of their own baby and other babies and can pick out their baby by smell

14 14 Bonding is not innate Hardly surprising see these biological mechanisms, given role that of caregiver in infant survival for all mammals But as attachment disorders demonstrate, these mechanisms are from failsafe In fact, one of the defining features of a high at-risk caregiver is precisely the absence of the abovenatural responses to a baby

15 15 Attachment Disorders Working with at-risk families drives home that even seemingly natural instincts like looking at a caregivers eyes, or soothing a crying baby, are not biological givens Effect on caregiver when a baby avoids eye-to-eye contact, or effect on a baby when a caregiver does not nurture, can be quite painful to see, as both infant and caregiver quickly become withdrawn

16 16 Babies need to be wooed into engagement babies dont automatically lock onto caregivers eyes, like a heat-seeking missile baby has to be wooed to look in their caregivers eyes or respond to their caregivers voice Every baby varies in the amount of energy or modulation required to encourage these early interactions

17 17 Babies display innate mechanisms that promote dyadic interaction newborns are perceptually attuned to the face, voice, touch, taste, and even movements, with a marked preference shown to the primary caregiver They are drawn to their caregivers eyes: to the high energy field at the corners of the eyes They begin that quintessential vocalization for bringing a caregiver running, crying, within a half- hour of birth

18 18 Innate mechanisms in Caregiver Breastfeeding triggers oxytocin, enhancing bonding by producing pleasant sensations Adults have visceral response to sound of baby crying; typically pick up and soothe her mothers can distinguish between the crying of their own baby and other babies and can pick out their baby by smell

19 19 Bonding is not innate as attachment disorders demonstrate, these mechanisms are from failsafe In fact, one of the defining features of a high at-risk caregiver is precisely the absence of the abovenatural responses to a baby Problems in self-regulation in caregiver

20 20 Attachment Disorders Working with at-risk families drives home that even seemingly natural instincts like looking at a caregivers eyes, or soothing a crying baby, are not biological givens Effect on caregiver when a baby avoids eye-to-eye contact, or effect on a baby when a caregiver does not nurture, can be quite painful to see, as both infant and caregiver quickly become withdrawn

21 21 Babies need to be wooed into engagement babies dont automatically lock onto caregivers eyes, like a heat-seeking missile baby has to be wooed to look in their caregivers eyes or respond to their caregivers voice Every baby varies in the amount of energy or modulation required to encourage these early interactions

22 22 At-Risk Caregiver caregivers arent born knowing how to do this these caregiving skills have been honed over our evolutionary history and passed down from one generation to the next isolated caregiver who hasnt seen other caregivers tending to their babies, or who has no recourse to a other experienced caregivers to guide her efforts to interact and feed a fussy baby, can find herself overwhelmed, even angry at baby

23 23 Primary role of positive affect in babys development For baby to find interaction pleasurable, caregiver has to understand babys physiology: what brings comfort or interests her, what calms her down or, when she is lethargic, up-regulates her Over-reactive baby needs soothing touch, sounds Under-reactive baby needs more energy ultimate source of implicit knowledge are the hours spent caring for an infant

24 24 Biological Variability Every infant is unique in the stimulation she likes, how much, when, and how she shows this Infants with hyper/hypo-sensitivities, or motor, or processing compromises, can find interaction aversive and shut down A similar phenomenon is seen in severely depressed caregivers or those who, for whatever reason, fail to read their infants cues

25 What is Self-Regulation? Self-regulation is defined as regulation of the self by the self (Baumeister & Vohs 2006) This defn lands us on a slippery slope: i.e., with the questions, How does the self do this?, and What regulates the self so that it can regulate the self? Self-regulation is used as an umbrella term covering five distinct levels The challenge is to understand what links these levels together 25

26 26 Five Levels of Self-Regulation 1.Biology (Temperament) 2.Emotion-regulation 3.Cognitive: Effortful Control –Sustained attention –Attention switching –Inhibit impulses –Deal with frustration, delay, distractions 4.Social: Mastery of socially-desirable behaviors 5.Moral: development of empathy, values

27 27 Arousal Regulation (Level 1) Underpins the other 4 Levels of S-R Arousal regulation is a function of Sympathetic Nervous System activation (e.g., adrenalin) and Parasympthetic Nervous System inhibition (e.g., cortisol) In effect, putting your foot on the gas or the brakes in order to deal with a stressor

28 Continuum of Arousal Regulation There is a continuum of arousal, ranging from sleep to being flooded how much recovery is necessary or how much activation is needed for any particular task is going to vary from child to child and situation to situation 28

29 Stages of Arousal Inhibition 1. Asleep 2. Drowsy 3. Hypoalert 4. Calmly focused and Alert 5. Hyperalert 6. Flooded Activation 29

30 30 Driving Analogy helpful for understanding the subtle adjustments in arousal involved in regulating attention If goal is to maintain a speed of 100 km/hr constantly pressing and easing up on the gas depending on the state of the road, incline, wind speed etc. Furthermore, driving involves constant changes in speed limits or traffic conditions, so learning how to drive involves learning how to smoothly adjust the amount of gas or braking required for the current conditions

31 31 Optimal Regulation Children vary considerably in their capacity for optimal regulation: i.e., their capacity to make gradual and rapid changes across the arousal continuum, recover back to baseline, and modulate the highs and lows of energy within a given state Some children are constantly pushing too hard on the gas or the brake pedal, jumping erratically from one level to another, or not hard enough (Lillas & Turnbull 2009)

32 32 Allostatic Load Conditions If child subjected to too much stress, the result can be an allostatic load condition: Sudden transitions between energy states prolonged over-activation of SNS and/or PNS inappropriate activation of SNS or PNS (i.e., in situations not warranting a heightened stress response) diminished ability to return to baseline after activation of the stress response

33 33 Consequence of Over-Exposure to Stress Disrupts development of the brain (HPA pathway) Child becomes chronically hypoaroused or hyperaroused Child has difficulty staying focused and alert, which is the ideal state for learning to occur

34 34 Chronic Hypoarousal Might be because of problems reaching a threshold to activate awareness of a stimulus or because this serves as a defensive mechanism because child finds certain stimuli or experiences overwhelming; Or because child has difficulty differentiating internal signals Child finds it soothing to be in a hypoaroused state

35 35 Chronic Hyperarousal Child might be highly sensitive to certain kinds of stimulus (internal or external) he might be sensory craving and need to maintain a certain level of activity in order to feel fully aware of his body or to register certain kinds of sensation he might be experiencing too many stressors and his parasympathetic system is in constant overdrive

36 36 Down-regulating and Up- regulating a Child caregivers regulating behaviors a function of the situation and her reading of the babys signals E.g., if it is time for social interaction and the child is listless and nonresponsive she might up-regulate the baby by heightening the intensity of her smiles, vocalizations, gestures If it is bedtime and the child is hyperaroused, with jerky movements or a wide-eyed stare, she might seek to down-regulate him via bath-time, story time, singing a lullaby, stroking

37 37 Sleeping Sleeping is very much a self-regulating behavior, a critical way of restoring bodily functions, and an important part of the process of learning how to self- regulate involves learning how to register the visceral signals of fatigue and the need to lie down and restore But a child who sleeps excessively as a mechanism for avoiding stress needs to be up-regulated, which means addressing the causes of the childs distress

38 38 Self-Regulation and Self-Control marked tendency to equate problems in self- regulation with poor self-control To be sure, some children find it much more difficult to control their impulses There is a strong tendency, dating back to the Ancient Greeks and Early Christian thinkers, to see these children as somehow to blame for their poor self-control

39 A Change in Attitudes is Imperative We need a different understanding of why it is so difficult for some children to inhibit their impulses That is, we need to understand why some children have so much more trouble learning the skills that support self-control, and what we can do to help them master these skills 39

40 40 Why it is so Difficult for Some Children to Develop Self-Control Whatever a child is doing demands fuel, and the size of that cost will vary according to the activity, the situation, and most importantly, the child two children might have to expend very different amounts of energy – be at very different points on the arousal continuum – in order to engage in the same activity This can be due to biological, social, and/or environmental causes

41 41 Sitting in Class Suppose we are dealing with a child who finds sitting in a classroom very demanding, for different reasons: maybe he finds the visual and auditory stimuli distracting and he has to work hard to filter this out in order to pay attention to his teacher or he finds the hard seat uncomfortable and it is taxing for him to sit still for too long

42 42 Cascading Effects Suppose this child expends 40 l/100 km in order to master some new material while the child sitting next to him only expends 20 l/100 km It is no surprise, given the tight interconnection between arousal and focus that the attention span of the first child will be much less than that of the second But if the pace of the lessons is patterned on the attention span of the latter child, then the former is going to fall further and further behind

43 43 Energy Depletion Studies Baumeister has shown in a number of experiments that attention to a task significantly depletes energy reserves The greater the energy consumed by a task the greater the likelihood that child will shut down to try to restore energy churn out adrenaline to try to meet the demands of the situation), both states marked by decreased attentional capacity Negative emotions (frustration, shame, anxiety) are also a great drain

44 44 Sources of the Problem The problem is that some children have to work much harder than others to perform the same tasks, and it is this expenditure that so seriously depletes their capacity to meet subsequent challenges A child who daydreams excessively or is inordinately hyperactive is certainly not culpable in any way, and it would be deeply unfortunate to treat the child as if he were, however unconscious this might be we need to understand and thereby mitigate the drains on their nervous system

45 45 The Effects of Excessive Stress What studies show is that some children are dealing with far too much stress in their lives, because of biological, social, psychological, and/or environmental reasons These children have to work much harder to pay attention, and an allostatic load condition is going to get ever more entrenched as the negative effects caused by falling further and further behind or having greater and greater social problems exacerbate the drain on their already over-stretched nervous system

46 Understanding a Child self-regulation is critical for enabling a child to engage in those social experiences that enable her to learn the cognitive and emotion-regulating skills that underpin self-control A child who has difficulty engaging in these critical social experiences because of the drain on his nervous system can indeed be helped; but only if his or her needs are first understood 46

47 Early Indicators Must Not be Ignored Problems in self-regulation, leading to poor self- control in a young child, can have a seriously cascading effect in all domains: physical, social and psychological This is what the graphic is telling us 47

48 48 Readings Baumeister & Vohs 2006 Calkins & Johnson, 1998 Duckworth, A & M Seligman 2005 Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents Psychological Science, 16, 12, Kochanska & Knaack, 2003 Kochanska et al., 2000 Lillas & Turnbull 2009 Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. L. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244,


Download ppt "The Importance of Self-Regulation Stuart G. Shanker Distinguished Research Professor Director, Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative."

Similar presentations


Ads by Google