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6 November 2020

posted 5 Nov 2020, 18:11 by Carolyn Brett
Recently on RNZ, Psychologist, Sarb Johal, discussed a session on parenting, children and self control. It resonated as I often return to thinking about self control as it is recognised as possibly the most dominant factor in adult wellbeing.

"Self control measures a child's ability to stop acting on an immediate impulse. Levels of self-control in childhood have been found to be predictors of future education, health and financial wellbeing." 

Certainly the fantastic largest longitudinal study "Growing Up in New Zealand" shows some very interesting findings. In the study, 60% of children usually had good levels of self control, 40% lower levels some of the time and about 1% found it very difficult to stop. This isn't fixed and can very much be context dependent.

There were some general themes around those children who had fewer rules around screen time and parents who had a more permissive style. It seems the middle ground is preferable... not overly authoritarian, not permissive, but in the middle position, 'authoritative' and knowing when to pick the battles wins out. 

Additionally, children who are read to or told stories and who are coached through difficult situations definitely seem to have a head start. You can read the full report here. The 20 minute radio Interview is here.

It’s obviously been a bit of a thing of mine. I can still recall being fascinated by Walter Mischel's 'marshmallow test' many years ago at University. I've always wondered whether I would have gone for the one marshmallow now.... or wait and have two. Although the way in which I tended to hoard my Easter Eggs for weeks may be a bit of a giveaway on that front!

Of course, as educators we witness the children's  self -control prowess on a daily basis. We seek to learn about  different tools and strategies to support them to further develop these skills as I know you will too. As it's such a 'big deal' in wellbeing terms, it would be good if we could align our methodologies and thinking. This is something you may like to discuss with your child's Base Group teacher if it's 'a thing' at home at the Progress Meetings. They are coming up soon - book your meeting now!
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