Self-Regulation During Year One

Delivery Method: 

Infants’ ability to soothe themselves when frustrated, to focus their attention in spite of distraction, and to organize their behavior into an effective sequence defines an area of development called "self-regulation”. In this video clip of a 10-month-old infant, we see how she demonstrates all three. She places a ball on a platform and then carefully moves it to the edge to watch it fall. She explores this game for four minutes! On several occasions, the ball rolls too far for her to reach. Sometimes she cries lightly, perhaps a signal to the teacher that she is in distress. Once she slips and bumps her head on the platform. Again she cries, perhaps not so much as a signal, but as an automatic response to the feeling of pain. She recovers quickly, possibly due to her interest in her game with the ball. Notice how she seeks a ball closer to herself when the ball she is using rolls too far away to reach. Children can be wonderfully flexible in their choices of strategy as a way to avoid frustration. About half way through the video clip, the infant pauses to listen to a conversation off camera. But then she returns to her game. She seems to put her game "on hold" but not out of her mind. Although her attention is temporarily directed elsewhere, she leaves some mental space for the game so that she can pick up where she left off. Having these two levels of attention supports children’s regulation of their actions toward a goal. Notice how this child can sequence her actions in a manner that makes the game possible. She searches for a ball close enough to reach, grabs the ball, puts it on the top of the platform, gently moves it to the edge, pauses it there, and then one more slight move to make it fall. The sequence is repeated. This video clip offers us a good example of self-regulation: self-soothing, focused attention, and organized behavior.

Note: Most of the cries do not come from the child in the video, only the cries when she bumps her head and later when she cannot reach the tennis ball on the platform. But even here notice that after crying she gives the tennis ball one more attempt before the teacher rolls her the red bumpy ball.

Keywords: Ones, Child-Object, Cause/Effect, Exploration, Invention

Length of stand alone master video clip: 4 minutes 9 seconds