When children have opportunities to develop executive function and self-regulation skills, individuals and society experience lifelong benefits. These skills are crucial for learning and development. They also enable positive behavior and allow us to make healthy choices for ourselves and our families.
Executive function and self-regulation skills depend on three types of brain function: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These functions are highly interrelated, and the successful application of executive function skills requires them to operate in coordination with each other.
Each type of executive function skill draws on elements of the others.
Working memory governs our ability to retain and manipulate distinct pieces of information over short periods of time.
Mental flexibility helps us to sustain or shift attention in response to different demands or to apply different rules in different settings.
Self-control enables us to set priorities and resist impulsive actions or responses.