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Batman and Brain Development - How Imagination Can Help Children Develop Self-Control

by Stephanie M. Carlson
May/June 2018
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/batman-and-brain-development-how-imagination-can-help-children-develop-self-control/5024169/

Executive function refers to the brain skills that allow us to control our thoughts, actions, and emotions. These skills include cognitive flexibility (thinking about something in multiple ways and shifting gears, for example, transitioning smoothly from snack time to center time), working memory (holding information in mind and working with it, such as reminding yourself of the rules of a new game), and inhibitory control (ignoring distractions and controlling urges, like not grabbing a toy from another child or having an angry outburst).

It is well known by educators, clinicians, and parents that developmental disorders involving EF, such as ADHD, can have severe consequences for academic achievement. But even mild difficulties with EF can make it hard for children to reach their full potential.

In my research lab at the University of Minnesota, we investigate ways to help young children strengthen their EF skills so they will be ready for kindergarten and beyond. The first step in our research was to observe what kids who have good EF skills are doing. For example, if some four-year-olds wait up to 15 minutes for a larger reward on the “Marshmallow Test,” what are they doing during the delay that might be helping? My students and ...

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