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10 Ways to build self-control in preschoolers.

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

The phrase "terrible twos" probably applies to you if you have a toddler. In reality, children in the 2–5 year old age range have a difficult time exercising self-control. Not without reason: at this time, the brain expands incredibly, but the prefrontal cortex, which governs executive functions like self-control and focus, matures more slowly than other brain regions. The good news is that Playgroup kids can get through this stage if their parents have patience and provide clear instructions. What you can do to assist them is as follows:


Set an example for others to follow: More than any other method, children learn through observation. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to set an example of self-control that kids can emulate as they grow older. In the eyes of the child, expressing strong emotions and rage in response to life's hardships validates that method of handling things. Therefore, controlling your own emotions is the best way to aid in the child's development of self-control. If you calm down the toddler and talk to her the next time she's worried about anything, you're setting a precedent for her to talk to herself through tough situations in life. In a similar vein, every time you run in to assist a child, your face plastered with worry, to help solve a problem that the preschooler can handle on his own, you are restricting the child's capacity for problem solving and increasing the likelihood that the child will mimic your own anxiety.

Avoid using physical punishment: Although you might be tempted to employ physical punishment to help the child learn a lesson and prevent him from repeating the inappropriate behavior, the truth is that it can really cause more harm than good. In fact, it may incite sentiments of animosity toward the parents and reinforce the idea that using aggressiveness is OK in certain situations. Strict discipline and physical punishment can have a lasting effect on a child's self-esteem. Alternatively, you might employ a ton of entertaining activities to assist the child comprehend the idea of discipline. Therefore, it might be beneficial to play the game "green light," in which the child moves when the light turns green and freezes when the light turns red, to help them learn about rules. In the same way, it's a terrific idea to play "Simon Says"!

Clearly state your expectations: When establishing guidelines or regulations, be explicit. "Take turns on the swing," or "Reading time is quiet time." These kinds of brief, unambiguous instructions are quite effective with kids. Don't forget to explain to the kids what to anticipate in a given circumstance. Because adults will be conversing for a while, it is ideal to let the child know ahead of time that you will be seeing a relative and to carry some play-toys. The child is less likely to have a tantrum when the focus is diverted from him for a short period of time because he is mentally prepared for the scenario.

Assist your child in identifying their feelings: It's a good idea to assist a child in recognizing and validating their sentiments. Thus, you may explain to the child that you looked upset when your friend took the toy away. It will assist the child in realizing that feeling all emotions is OK, provided that you do not condone any inappropriate behavior that results from feeling any particular emotion. Acknowledging his emotions will also assist the child in controlling his own behavior and prevent him from losing it. Teaching self-control-enhancing language can also be a useful tool. Therefore, arm the child with phrases like "I'll wait for my turn" or "May I borrow this from you”.

Create routines: Children are less likely to act out while eating if they are aware that snack time usually involves spending time at the park. It should go without saying that children require a healthy sleep environment above all else. They'll probably be lot more erratic without it.

Promote positive behavior: It's crucial to give positive behavior your full support. If you tell the child that you saw him waiting for his turn at the park, you can help him form the habit of waiting for his turn.

Instill Empathy: It's critical that the child comprehends other people's emotions and the impact of his actions on them. Early on, empathy will be established through discussions like "How did you think your friend felt when you did not share your toys with him?"

Provide Substitutes: It's a good idea to provide your child a toy laptop, for example, if he picks up your laptop and begins to play with it. The child takes away from this experience the ability to deal with setbacks and find alternatives. Try to postpone the child's enjoyment using the same reasoning. Therefore, give the child a reasonable explanation for when he can have what he wants rather than giving him everything he wants right away. But bear in mind that the timelines and the justifications should be age-appropriate. Once you've committed, stick with it. The child will learn to tolerate delays without becoming overly nervous.

Provide options: Frequently, tantrums stem from a lack of options that annoys the child. Providing the child with enough options to feel in control will assist. Therefore, you may give them a selection of healthful snacks and let them make the final pick. Let them choose what they choose to play with that day as well. When you have the last word, though, it will be helpful to remind them that, for example, "it is bed time," rather than asking, "would you like to go to bed now?"

Make a comfortable nook: Let's face it, there will be moments when the child experiences too many emotions at once. Having the child's favorite toys in a comfortable corner will aid during these moments. Instruct the child to use this as a place of refuge if they need time to collect themselves. In order for the child to utilize additional anger control techniques, including doodling and counting to ten, they should be introduced to their repertoire at an early age.

Keep in mind that the brain is comparable to a muscle that can be trained. Your ability to be emotionally present for your child, to provide an example of appropriate behavior, and to support their goals will help them develop self-control and improve their willpower on a daily basis.

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