The self-regulation describes the ability of an individual to manage and alter their emotions, behavior and cognition. Good self-regulation is associated with positive benefits for mental health and higher academic performance in children.
A new study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, details how researchers from the University of Surrey studied 240 elementary school students ages 7-11 in a period of 11 weeks to evaluate how taekwondo acts in self-regulation.
The trial studied children in groups of four years (school years 3 to 6), with two classes per one-year group (eight classes in total). Half of the children in each class were randomly assigned to the Taekwondo experimental test group and the other half to the control group. . The experimental group received two 45-minute Taekwondo classes per week, and the control group received two 45-minute physical education classes per week during the same testing period.
Baseline data was collected from children the week before classes started and after they ended, 11 weeks after initial data collection. The data included questionnaires to assess what the children thought about the lessons and the importance they attached to behaviors related to good self-control; questionnaires completed by teachers that assess children’s self-regulation in school; and computer tasks that evaluate a series of mental processes called executive functions that allow self-regulation.
After the classes ended, the teachers rated the children in the Taekwondo experimental group for having better attention span than those who had regular physical education classes, in addition to having better executive attention assessed by a flanking task, where the participant must correctly identify the direction of an on-screen stimulus while ignoring surrounding competitive stimuli.
The results indicate that the short standard Taekwondo courses were well received by the students and led to higher levels of value assigned to self-control. The study also found that the classes improved children’s self-regulation and reduced symptoms of conduct disorders.