“Less-structured time in children’s daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning” – Frontiers in Psychology recently released this article on research that confirmed what many parents (and what parents of other generations and cultures) are recognizing to be true: kids with free time eventually are better able to set and make their own goals. (For a slightly less academic, slightly more summarized report of this study, see the article, “Kids whose time is less structured are better able to meet their own goals, says CU-Boulder study.”
“Why do young children often forget (or outright refuse) to put on a coat before leaving the house on a snowy day? The choice to put on a jacket may seem frustratingly obvious to parents and older siblings, but this simple decision arises from a surprisingly complex interplay of behaviors. Children must keep in mind a goal (staying warm and dry) that is not yet relevant in the comfort of a warm house. They must inhibit the urge to proceed with a regular sequence of tasks (put on socks and shoes and head out the door), and instead modify their routine to include something new (pulling a coat from the closet). Unless someone intervenes, this change in the status quo must be accomplished without any external reminders (a visible coat, or a well-timed reminder from a caregiver).