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HomeHealth & BehaviorBehavior & Discipline

Teaching young kids self-control

Page 2 of 2

By GreatSchools Staff

Take a break

Create a quiet place at home where an out-of-control child can calm down. It can be a pillow-filled corner in the living room or a cozy spot in a child’s bedroom. By providing an at-home refuge, parents can teach kids that there’s a way, and a place, to collect themselves when things get out of hand.

Provide a reward

Young kids often do better at a task if they get a reward at the end. It doesn’t have to be a material reward (offering toys and treats can set a bad precedent), but a natural consequence for showing self-discipline. The reward might be picking out favorite stories after getting ready for bed when you ask, or getting to choose the dessert after helping to set the kitchen table.

Praise your children

When you see kids practicing self-control, let them know. This kind of positive reinforcement will help them think of themselves as people who can successfully control their behavior: “I love how you waited patiently for your turn.” “This is the third time this week you didn’t interrupt me when I was on the phone. I really appreciate that you waited to talk with me.”

Play at self-control

For young children, the best way to learn something is through play. So on the way to the bath, in the supermarket, or on the drive to school, have your children stop and start different actions, like freezing when you say “Potato!” In the car, every time there’s, say, a yellow sign, have your kids clap and say, “Yellow sign!” These types of games teach kids to stop and think before acting, a self-control essential.

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