According to a study published in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly journal, three little words may help young children increase their self-control abilities. Those three little words aren’t what you think. Encouraging children to “use your words” builds their vocabulary, which helps children to regulate emotions and behavior. Researchers discovered that vocabulary development proved to be even more important in helping boys increase their self-control abilities.

Claire Vallotton, PhD, and Catherine Ayoub, PhD, followed children participating in the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation study from the time they were 1 year old up to 3 years old. They discovered that boys with a strong vocabulary showed a dramatic increase in their ability to self-regulate as compared to boys with vocabularies not as strong.

Research in Action: ABC Music & Me

ABC Music & Me supports the development of key school-readiness skills, such as listening, self-control, and turn-taking. Our weekly lessons also significantly boost language and literacy skills, including vocabulary development. Picture vocabulary cards support unit-by-unit vocabulary, comprehension, memory, and pre-literacy skills. We give teachers the tools they need to increase a child’s vocabulary knowledge and then actively begin “using their words” in the class.

Ron Huxley Regulates: I was drawn to this article at the work “regulation.” This has become a big word in children’s mental health and hopefully parenting education will follow suite. Attachment researcher Daniel Siegal defines regulations as “the way the mind organizes its own functioning…fundamentally related to the modulation of emotion…Emotion regulation is initially developed from within interpersonal experiences in a process that establishes self-organizational abilities.”

Stated in plain English, regulation is how children achieve self-control and manage impulses. Language, as the original blog post describes assists us in forming structure to our emotional energy and manage them. It is crucial in our brain development and connects to other important social constructs like moral behavior, abstract thinking/reasoning, planning, and judgement.

A question we could ponder is which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do we develop language and then achieve regulation or do we achieve regulation and then master language. I think they go together myself.

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