What is self-control?

Simply put, it is your ability to regulate yourself. The capacity to manage emotions, control impulses, delay gratification and plan ahead. However, self-control isn’t about making children behave. Rather, it is about giving children the tools they need to guide their own behavior.

Why is learning self-control so important?

Children that are able to learn and master this crucial social skill are more likely to be successful at home and school, and are less likely to demonstrate challenging behaviors. Children with poor self-control are also more likely to display aggressive behaviors and experience anxiety and depression. Long term, individuals who do not master these skills are at an increased risk for obesity, smoking, committing crimes and becoming dependent on drugs and/or alcohol.

What are some signs that a child struggles with self-control?

These children may act overly silly, have frequent tantrums or meltdowns, have a difficult time transitioning from activities, struggle to wait or take turns, have challenges being in close proximity to others and need significant adult support during social interactions.

What doesn’t promote self-control?

The primary factor identified is strict discipline. It may be needed in some situations but doesn’t promote children learning self-control. Strict discipline is about doing something because someone else told you to. It may get children to do what you want and keep quiet, but it doesn’t teach children to regulate their own behavior.

What helps promote self-control?

  • Create a classroom environment where self-control is consistently rewarded
  • Give kids a break
  • Turn “have to” tasks into “want to” tasks
  • Create an environment where children are able to deal with challenges and learn from their mistakes
  • Help children develop their attention skills and improve their working memory
  • Dramatic play
  • Build on children’s interests
  • Play games where children can practice self-control
    • Red light, green light
    • Freeze (game or songs)
    • Simon says
    • Bubbles
    • Musical chairs
    • Obstacle courses
    • Parachute play

Tags: self-control , behavior

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