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Dive into the intricate landscape of Self-Reg we dissect and dispel prevalent myths surrounding this crucial aspect of human behavior. From the nuances between “self-regulation” and “self-control” to debunking assumptions about genetics and early-life influences, challenge preconceived notions, offering a deeper understanding of self-regulation’s complexities and its profound impact on behavior and stress management. Join us on a journey of myth-busting and illuminating insights into the multifaceted world of self-regulation.

Myth 1:  Scientists all mean the same thing when they talk about “self-regulation”

In fact, Jeremy Burman documented 447 different uses of “self-regulation” in the scientific literature, which he grouped together into six distinct “concept-families.”

Myth 2: “Self-regulation” is just another term for “self-control”

Self-regulation is concerned with how we manage stress, not inhibiting the impulses that arise from excessive stress.

Myth 3: Self-Reg provides a more effective way to manage behavior than traditional behaviorist approaches

Self-Reg is about understanding, not managing behavior, and ameliorating the conditions that result in challenging behaviors.

Myth 4: A child’s ability to self-regulate, like intelligence, is genetically determined

Neither is “genetic,” although biological issues can make it more challenging for some children to learn how to manage the stress in their lives.

Myth 5: Self-regulation is set in the early years of life

Excessive stress in the early years can have a strong effect on a child’s “stress-reactivity,” but there is never a point where it is too late to learn how to self-regulate.

Myth 6: Self-regulation is solely concerned with handling powerful negative emotions (e.g. anger, fear)

Self-regulation is as much about up-regulating positive emotions (e.g., interest, love, happiness) as down-regulating negative emotions.

Myth 7: Self-regulation promotes permissive parenting

Self-regulation is about recognizing and reducing stressors and structure plays an important role in this regard. Permissive parenting has, in fact, been shown to be as great a stress for children as authoritative parenting.

Hungry for more Self-Reg learning and myth-busting? Consider our Self-Reg 101 For All professional learning series, our Foundations or Early Childhood Development certificate programs.


Dr. Stuart Shanker is the Founder and CEO of The MEHRIT Centre.  You can read all the posts in his “Self-Reg View of” series here. You can also read his writing on our Self-Reg Blog.

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