Executive function and self-regulation skills are like an air traffic control system in the brain—they help us manage information, make decisions, and plan ahead. We need these skills at every stage of life, and while no one is born with them, we are all born with the potential to develop them. But, how do we do that? Learn more below. Note: We have embarked on our own journey of listening more carefully to the voices of people who are experiencing multiple forms of adversity personally. We have come to better understand that the “executive function and self-regulation skills” that continue to be the focus of extensive research are, in fact, “core skills” for a particular, culturally specific context that rewards goal-oriented planning, impulse control, and delayed gratification—while in other circumstances it may be more adaptive and effective in the short term to develop skills that enable a quick survival response. Biology tells us that human development is about adaptation, as our brains (and the rest of our bodies) adapt to the context in which we live. As we began to think more intentionally about the broad diversity of those contexts, it became increasingly clear that the skills we have been calling “core”—while still important— must be viewed as important only when they’re matched to a particular purpose in a particular set of contexts.