Self-Regulate or Meiwaku

Happy New Year to everyone! I wish and pray that the year 2013 is filled with excitement, adventure, joy, good health, and peace. This year I am hoping to become more consistent and committed to my blogging and will attempt to post two short writings a week.


Allow me to indulge in the concept of Self-Regulation with respect to Executive Functions:

During the Christmas break, my family and I visited Japan. Among many of its natural and cultural gifts, I was awestruck by a concept called Meiwaku, which refers to causing trouble or nuisance to others. Beyond its literal meaning, in its broader sense, Meiwaku refers to bringing shame to a group by the actions of an individual who behaves inappropriately. Right from the start, Japanese are taught that their actions are not only reflective of who they are as individuals but are representative of their family, culture or even their entire country.

In his blog, Jeffrey Hays ( writes, “When Yoko Ono took her first trip to the United States as a little girl she remembered her mother telling her, “If you’re naughty, no one’s going to think, ‘Yoko is a bad girl,’ they’re going to think the Japanese are bad. So you must be careful. Each of us is a diplomat.” Thomas Dillon, in his article in Japan Times ( writes, “To me, meiwaku means being a burden. I don’t want to be meiwaku because I don’t want to inconvenience others. The way to live is not to complain, but rather to focus on my own contributions.”

This got me thinking about the plight of the children and students who suffer from ADHD and other developmental disorders, whose cognitive and executive function development is delayed such that they are unable to control their impulses, often leading to inappropriate social engagement. This lack of impulse control and poor self-regulation causes disruption to others and influences others’ opinion of that individual.

  • In her article, “School Transition and School Readiness: An Outcome of Early Childhood Development,” Sara Rimm-Kaufman, Ph. D. ( pointed out that parents and teachers use two different sets of parameters to describe school readiness in children entering Kindergarten. Dr. Rimm-Kaufman observed that parents emphasize knowing letters and numbers in order to take on Kindergarten, while teachers look for readiness in the social domain. They were keenly interested in the child’s ability to focus and follow directions, attributes indicative of self-regulation in the social context.

Executive Functions evolve with maturity, training and dynamic learning. However, social awareness and interpersonal boundary plays an important role in understanding rule-based aspects of Executive Functions. Teaching self-regulation and rewarding behaviors that reflect attentional control can be a family business and a cultural phenomenon. Expecting that not just our children, but we ourselves should not cause inconvenience to others can lead to a path of thoughtful and mindful behaviors impacting learning and social reciprocity.

I invite you to leave a comment and join me in sharing ideas. If you would you like to know more about my practice, visit my website at For any further communication, leave me a note here or contact me at

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