Skills are needed to regulate emotions and arousal, as well as an ability to solve problems and make effective decisions. In contemporary developmental science, these skills are often described under the umbrella concept of executive functions (see Section 2.1). Masten and O’Dougherty Wright (2009) identify that executive functions include “…working memory, selective attention, inhibiting a dominant response in favour of a more adaptive response, delay of gratification, and related self-control capabilities that develop in tandem with brain maturation” (p226). This involves learning to understand the links between experience, thoughts and feelings and an ability to consider and practice alternative possibilities for action. Confidence in being able to regulate one’s emotional responses provides the basis for setting and pursuing goals that have a longer-term effect.
For further detail on emotion regulation see the module Developing Emotion Regulation Skills.