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Practicing Self-Control

Just getting through the grocery store can be a challenge with our little ones! We all know those little hands have a hard time not grabbing for everything they see and want. We want our kids to start practicing self-control but it isn’t easy for any of us at times!

Self-Control is an important skill that not only do we need, but our kids need to be successful. The best way to teach your little one self-control is by practicing self-control! We've provided some simple strategies that help promote self-control.

Self-control is the ability to effectively manage one’s own behavior. Our kids NEED this skill to succeed in their future. As parents we can help promote self-control with a few simple strategies. First and foremost our children learn when we practice our own self-control! We help them build their own skills just by responding to our difficulties in a calm manner. Secondly, if we respond in a warm and emphatic way to our children’s struggles they will better respond to their own emotional stress and build self-control. This important skill is a key to healthy social and emotional well-being that begins to develop through the toddler years and improves significantly after the age of 3. Be patient!! This skill is not acquired over night and takes a lot of practice!! Clear and consistent expectations given in a warm and emphatic way will help increase self-control. Along with these limits and appropriate expectations, simple and fun games can help increase your child’s ability to control their actions.

A special type of self-control is called “effortful control,” that is, if a child is “primed” to do a certain behavior, can they stop themselves and choose another behavior that may have less negative consequences. This is essentially impulse control.

Simple Ways to Promote Self-Control

  • Provide consistent rules and stay calm when reinforcing them!
  • Provide guidance when needed but give your kids the opportunity to make choices:
    • Delay Gratification
    • Practice turn taking
    • Have your child wait a few extra seconds for a snack or to start an activity
    • Have your preschooler mark off days on the calendar to help them understand time and build their patience by waiting for a special event.
  • Play Games to Promote Self-Control:
    • Mother May I
    • Red Light, Green light
    • Simon Says
    • Freeze Tag
  • In the car listen to music that your toddler can quickly change speeds by moving their arms fast and slow!
  • Promote positive self-control by promoting positive self-talk
    o Go to Growing Sound Website to learn more about self-control and positive self-talk!

Sing along to the self-control song too!

Don’t forget to check out the Growing Sound website for songs that help children connect positively to their emotions.

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These parent tips are brought to you through our partnership with the Research to Practice Team at Children, Inc. (CI).  Children, Inc. is a 37 year-old non-profit who is a national leader in innovative early childhood education.  The Research to Practice Team at CI is made up of child development specialists and educators who translate important research breakthroughs into practical strategies for parents and teachers.

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