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Language Processing Skills and Self-Regulation

For those of you familiar with our approach, the relationship between lagging language processing skills and challenging behavior is nothing new. When kids can’t articulate what’s bothering them and what their concerns are, they’re more apt to get frustrated and behave maladaptively.  A piece in Psychology Today magazine discussed a study in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly lending more scientific support to this Think:Kids truism:

The study authors “found that vocabulary at 24 months serves as a very strong predictor of self-regulation at the 3-year mark….Researchers controlled for overall cognitive skills, ruling out the possibility that tots with better lexicons are just smarter.  Instead, they suspect that when kids can voice their thoughts, they take charge of their situations instead of growing frustrated.  Kids may also use words as mental tools to figure things out or calm themselves down.”

If your child is struggling behaviorally, it may be that weak language skills are a part of the story.  (While the study only looked at kids at the 3-year mark, you can be sure that the impact of weak language processing skills persists well beyond that mark, and indeed likely gets to be even more of a problem as time goes on.)  Fortunately, as well, Plan B itself provides an indirect mechanism for training a child’s ability to articulate their feelings and concerns, as each time you are working to solve a problem in this fashion you are both modeling and exercising language skills!