3 Ways To Teach Young Children Self-Control

Due to poor self-control or self-regulation, many young impulsive children (especially boys) get into trouble with teacher or parents.  In the classroom these are behaviors such as calling out, out of seat, touching others, quick to say, “I can’t do it.”, and in other’s personal space.  At home these children are on the move, interrupt, may call siblings names, or even hit.  These behaviors are frustrating to teachers, parents and the child.  After all, what young child wants to continually get in trouble?

Teach Your Child Self Control

The good news is there are three ways you can teach your child to self-control.  First, have consistent rules and expectations at home.  It’s documented that children with poor self-control can self-regulate better within the structure of rules and limits.  Parents that are firm but loving have children with better self-control than permissive parents.

Second, help your child develop a stronger inner voice.  To have self-control your child must use self-talk.  Talk to your child about what she is saying in her mind.  For example, if your child calls their sibling a stupid poopy head. Instead of simply scolding him, ask him questions such as, “What were you thinking before you said that? What could you have said to yourself? What will you tell yourself do next time this happens?”

You can also help your child by ‘thinking aloud’ about how you self-regulate. Many times adults take for granted that children know how we think.  Next time you are faced with an impulsive situation, talk aloud about how you could have reacted impulsively but didn’t because of what you said to yourself.

Third, explicitly teach self-control.  Kids love games and playing ‘Simon Says’ helps children practice self-control.  You can also play the statue game where you time your child to see how long he can stand without moving.  Keep track of this and each time encourage him to beat his last time.

Consider an evaluation if your child’s impulse-control issues are severe.  My evaluation will help you know if this is something your child can control or if it is out of his control.  This insight will help you know how to better discipline your child.