Self-regulation is the ability to control ones behavior and to adapt to a situation. It's the ability to follow expectations for behavior and is a critical feature of development within the first five years of life. Compliance with a parents request is one of the earliest forms of self-regulation. It requires a child to stop and modify their behavior in order to meet the parents request or instruction. An example of a child modifying their behavior is when a parent says, "Can you come help me put your clothes away?" The child has to stop whatever they're doing to help the parent and therefore modifies their behavior to go help the parent.
Self-regulation helps children solve problems and get along with others. It helps children solve problems because they can deal with the disappointment of not getting their way all the time. It helps children get along with others because it helps a child understand that everyone has input of what is played and be able to take turns. Children who have strong self-regulation skills are able to adapt to changes in their environment. This helps as a family moves to a new house or the child moves from elementary to middle school.