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Deciding What to Do: Developments in Children’s Spontaneous Monitoring of Cognitive Demands


How do children decide which tasks to take on? Understanding whether and when children begin to monitor cognitive demands to guide task selection is important as children gain increasing independence from adults in deciding which tasks to attempt themselves. In this article, we review evidence suggesting a developmental transition in children's consideration of cognitive demands when making choices about tasks: Although younger children are capable of monitoring cognitive demands to guide task selection, spontaneous monitoring of cognitive demands begins to emerge around 5-7 years. We describe frameworks for understanding when and why children begin to monitor cognitive demands, and propose additional factors that likely influence children's decisions to pursue or avoid cognitively demanding tasks.

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