Home Is a Better Place to Teach Kids Self Control

A new federal report recommends that schools include self-regulation skills in their curriculum to help children manage their thoughts and feelings, control impulses and solve problems.

Seriously? Schools struggle with teaching math, literacy, civics and science and now some researchers believe that schools are the ideal place for kids to learn self-regulation skills. I don’t deny some of that is learned through the school process anyway, but to do so intentionally with the premise that students are not being taught these things at home.

Well, at least not in the way they think it should be done anyway.

The report was the final addition to a four part series on self-regulation and toxic stress. The paper was written by Desiree W. Murray, Katie Rosanbalm, and Christina Christopoulos on behalf of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. The report was commissioned by the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Murray, who is the associate director of research at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Futurity why schools were ideal.

“Self-regulation affects well-being across the lifespan, from mental health and emotional well-being to academic achievement, physical health, and socioeconomic success,” she said. “Unfortunately, prolonged or pronounced stress and adversity, including poverty and trauma, can delay children’s self-regulation development.”

“For optimal self-regulation, a child or adolescent needs to have a full bucket of skills and supports on which to draw,” Murray says. “There are two crucial periods when children are developing their self-regulation skills the most—in early childhood and early adolescence—when teachers and parents can help them build the skills they need for the rest of their lives.”

“Schools are an ideal place for interventions because there is opportunity to build skills in a cohesive approach from preschool through secondary school and because of the potential power of shared learning with peers. Interventions in schools can impact the culture and climate in a way that benefits all students,” Murray added.

Home, not school, is the ideal place for students to learn these skills.

Having worked with high-risk youth for 13 years I am fully aware of kids who have challenging home lives so I don’t want to pretend that every home is a wonderful, nurturing place where a child has all of his or her needs met. There are ways to address this from a community and faith-based perspective without dumping it onto a school.

Like I mentioned before schools are already struggling to teach the basics, and one of the reasons for that is that they are looked to be the be all and end all when it comes to social, physical, and psychological needs of the child. Schools are not 24-hour social service centers, they were never intended to be such, but for some that is the dream…. The schools do, in their minds, what the parents cannot and apparently that territory is growing.

We need to reject that mentality or we are going to see more reports like these whose ideas will eventually trickle their way down into policy.


One thought on “Home Is a Better Place to Teach Kids Self Control

  1. Good gracious!!! If children would be allowed to play, they would certainly learn self control on their own. They are denied play, they are forced to sit at desks at very young ages, they are force fed curriculum that is beyond what they are mentally capable of, they are sent home with tons of homework and we wonder why they are angry and have no self control? No one needs another study telling schools/teachers that they have to do more than they already do. Get the politicians and big business out of our schools and return childhood to children and I bet that life for all will be greatly improved!

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