Description: A huge part of growing up (well of developing and being “raised”) is learning how to self-regulate. Think of what small children do from time to time – they may have a tantrum when they do not get their way, they may eat all the cookies on the counter, they may be distracted by their toys when asked to go and collect the car keys they “borrowed” for a game in their room, etc. etc. Self-regulation, or the lack thereof covers all of those examples of child behavior. Another example and a participially important one developmentally is anger management. The ability to control or manage ones’ anger is an important prerequisite to being ready to enter the social world starting with preschool and kindergarten but also involving peer relations and all social contacts. A recent radio documentary described an alarming jump in incidents of violence perpetrated towards peers, aides and teachers in early grades within elementary schools in Ontario, Canada (you can listen at the link in the References section below). So, it maybe that parents need some advice about how to help their children develop self-regulation, especially as it relates to anger management. A cultural group that has been astoundingly good at just that sort of self-regulation development is the Inuit of Canada’s north. Read the article linked below for a fascinating account of the early work of Jean Biggs and the follow up by the author of the linked article looking at just how the Inuit address the issues of self-regulation and anger among their young children.
Source: How Inuit Parents Teach Their Kids to Control Their Anger, Michaeleen Doucleff and Jane Greenhalgh, Goats and Soda, NPR.
Date: March 13, 2019
Photo Credit: Jean Biggs Collection / American Philosophical Society
So, do you think the Inuit approach to helping children deal more socially and positively with their anger makes sense? Note that their approach runs at a number of levels. First they indicate that parents need to keep in mind that while their children may well be “pushing their buttons” remaining calm and not responding to child anger with adult anger keeps parental blood pressure low AND models self-control to their children. It works by not responding in the moment that the child is displaying anger but, rather, later and in a story telling (with moral) manner. Finally, their entire approach makes clear to everyone (children included) that acting in angry ways is considered immature and childlike and has no place in the larger social environment of the family and local community. Teaching strength in a playful manner sounds like a very positive approach to facilitating the development of self-regulation. Worth thinking about and perhaps trying out.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is self-regulation and why is it an important issue in development?
- List out as many things that you can think of in the way of “signs of emerging maturity” that reflect aspects of developing self-regulation.
- How do the Intuit go about helping their young children to develop control over their anger and anger related behavior?
References (Read Further):
Alisa Siegal, Violence in Elementary Schools, CBC Radio, Sunday Edition (starts and minute mark 4:58) https://podcast-a.akamaihd.net/mp3/podcasts/sundayedition-nSZqajHb-20190215.mp3
McClelland, M. M., & Cameron, C. E. (2012). Self‐regulation in early childhood: Improving conceptual clarity and developing ecologically valid measures. Child development perspectives, 6(2), 136-142. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Megan_Mcclelland/publication/229956809_Self-Regulation_Early_Childhood_Improving_Conceptual_Clarity_and_Developing_Ecologically_Valid_Measures/links/59dd39ee0f7e9b53c1970f8c/Self-Regulation-Early-Childhood-Improving-Conceptual-Clarity-and-Developing-Ecologically-Valid-Measures.pdf
Posner, M. I., & Rothbart, M. K. (2000). Developing mechanisms of self-regulation. Development and psychopathology, 12(3), 427-441. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b898/884403a04d227f7c05aae1b6999408a26b0b.pdf
Rothbart, M. K., Sheese, B. E., Rueda, M. R., & Posner, M. I. (2011). Developing mechanisms of self-regulation in early life. Emotion review, 3(2), 207-213. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164871/
Raver, C. C. (2004). Placing emotional self‐regulation in sociocultural and socioeconomic contexts. Child development, 75(2), 346-353. https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/001/782/Raver%202004%20Placing%20SR%20in%20Context.pdf
Fry, D. P. (2000). Conflict management in cross-cultural perspective. Natural conflict resolution, 334-351. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Douglas_Fry/publication/265383991_Conflict_Management_in_Cross-Cultural_Perspective/links/540c8c0a0cf2f2b29a382014/Conflict-Management-in-Cross-Cultural-Perspective.pdf
Briggs, J. L. (1970). Never in anger: Portrait of an Eskimo family (Vol. 12). Harvard University Press.