Teaching emotional competence and self-regulation skills should begin at birth

The importance of emotional competence and self‑regulation from birth

This pivotal research study from author Dr. Donna Housman, Founder of Housman Institute, shows the importance of emotional competence and self-regulation from birth, underscoring the need for evidence-based emotional cognitive social early learning approach. Scroll down to learn more.

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This research paper examines how the development of emotional competence and the growth of self-regulation within the first several years of life is foundational for long term personal, social, and academic success.


Academic success if related to emotional competence



Unlike other social emotional learning early childhood programs that offer a defined number of time-limited, structured lesson plans throughout the year, the ECSEL approach is:

  • Woven daily throughout the entire year
  • Begins from birth
  • Emphasizes emotional situations as opportunities to learn appropriate emotion-regulation strategies, such as co-regulation through causal talk in the emotional experience (CTEE).
Emotional Cognitive Social Early Learning



ECSEL is a preventive intervention approach that helps infants, toddlers, preschools, and young children learn to self-regulate by scaffolding the regulation process with awareness, understanding and practice. 

The tools and techniques in the study include:

  • Physiological Techniques
  • Mood Mirror
  • Emotions Books
  • Causal Talk in the Emotional Experience (CTEE)
  • Modified environment
  • Peace Corner
  • Emotion Chart
  • Calm-Down Bottle
  • Peace Table

ECSEL Tools, Caregiver Techniques, and child outcomes for social, emotional and cognitive development



Emotionally resilient infant
ECSEL teaches emotional competence in children as young as infants to develop the skills of emotion regulation, self-regulation, and empathy.
Children are born ready to learn. Implementation of programs that employ a variety of techniques focused on emotional and self-regulatory skills can begin as early as infancy.
ECSEL has long-term positive implications for children’s success in learning, mental health, and well-being.
"Results demonstrated that the interaction of emotional expressiveness and emotion regulation at ages 3 and 4 significantly predicted social competence measured concurrently, as well as at ages 5 and 6."
Dr. Donna Housman of Housman Institute

Dr. Donna Housman
Founder and CEO, Housman Institute