SAFER Training Programme (English)

Life Skills Theoretical Background – Building Self-Regulatory Skills

Starting with the concept of self-regulation we can generally define it as the ability to control one’s impulses, emotions or behaviours in the service of achieving goals and it involves complex questions about the nature of volition and its relation to our genetic endowment, psychological development and social experience. The psychological literature has examined its various aspects and research has found that greater self-regulation is positively associated with well-being (e.g. Skowron, Holmes, & Sabatelli, 2003). Furthermore, it is seemed that self-regulation activities can help many vulnerable populations to recover (survivors of gender-based violence) (Cohen, 2013).

Self-regulation develops initially from social sources (e.g. during infancy) and gradually shifts to self-sources, however, social influences do not disappear with advancing self-control. Developmental psychology conceives of self-regulation in terms of progressive cognitive changes that allow children to exert greater control over their thoughts, feelings, and actions. In addition, cognitive developmental theory emphasizes the role that language plays in self-regulation and establishes a strong link between inner speech and of self-regulation. From an information processing perspective, self-regulation is roughly equivalent to metacognitive awareness, i.e. knowledge about task demands, personal qualities and strategies for completing the task. Social constructivists view self-regulation as the process of acquiring beliefs about abilities and competencies, the structure and difficulty of tasks, and the way to regulate effort and strategy use to accomplish goals. According to operant theory, self-regulated behavior involves choosing among alternative courses of action, typically by suspending an immediate reinforcer in favor of a different and usually greater future reinforcer.