Tuesday, October 18, 2022

October SEL Focus: Self Management

By Erin Peace, LCSW, RPT: ACE Academy School Counselor

After students have an understanding of self-awareness and the relationship between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, they can better understand how to practice self-management. Self-management, or self-control, is the ability to regulate (have control over) your thoughts/emotions/behavior and work towards goals. Although self-control sounds simple, it involves a variety of processes: impulse control, stress management, self-discipline, organizational skills, and self-motivation.

Giftedness and Self-Management

Children generally begin to develop the ability to self-regulate around age 4 as the prefrontal cortex "goes online", and this part of the brain continues to develop until around age 25. Although research about the gifted brain is limited, an article published in Nature posits that neural pruning may occur later in children with superior IQs (students scoring with an IQ above 120), indicating delayed executive functioning development. While children with an average IQ begin the neural pruning process at an average of age 8, this article hypothesized that this process didn't begin on average until age 12 for gifted children, indicating a delay in the development of the prefrontal cortex and executive functioning skills. Does this mean that gifted children do not have the capacity to develop impulse control and self-management? Of course not; it simply signifies the need for increased scaffolding and support from adults at home and at school.

Scaffolding Self-Management

A way to help students practice self-management and strengthen their executive functioning skills is to help them identify their strengths and areas for growth around self-management. This short Executive Function Questionnaire for young students can be a starting point in helping your student identify goals around their self-management, while also encouraging internal self-awareness and reflection. 

After helping students identify their areas for growth, help your student develop a plan to address one of the core areas of self-management: Impulse control, attention/focus, and/or emotion regulation. I always recommend starting with emotion regulation, as this skill helps students strengthen all other areas of self-control.

If your student continues to struggle even with increased support, consider connecting with an executive functioning coach, or going through an executive functioning workbook with your student. As always, your student's self-management skills will also depend on how you model these skills explicitly to your child.

Executive Functioning and Giftedness

by: Erin Peace, LCSW, RPT School Counselor As we settle back into our routine for the school year, many of us emphasize setting resolutions ...