What is self-control? It is the ability to control oneself, keeping one’s emotions in check, especially when one is in a very difficult situation. As adults, sometimes self-control could be a challenge.For a child, just learning, this could be a very big hurdle to accomplish.
How can you teach your little one how to handle such big emotions like anger, frustration and disappointment? We all have the choice on how we handle ourselves. Children, too, have that choice, how to react or not react when those emotions start to bubble up. Once they realize they can choose self-control, they are well on their way.
Work on increasing their self-control with these strategies. They may then think before they act.
TALK IT OUT
Give your child words to use when she is upset. For example, if you can't find your keys, you might say, "I feel so frustrated! Where did I last have them?" Then when she is aggravated (maybe she can't find her favorite toy), encourage her to use similar words such as, “I feel sad because I want my toy. I was playing with it in the kitchen; maybe I could find it there.” She will learn to talk through her problems and be less likely to whine or cry if she talks it out.
Prepare for situations where self-control is necessary. You could say, “We’re going to have a play date with Billy. Let's think about what you can do if he's playing with a toy that you want to play with, as well." Some suggestions may be: ask Billy if you can join him or you can ask him if you can play with the toy when he is finished. Having a plan can help him avoid grabbing the toy or yelling at his friend.
When your children begin to get upset, help them find ways to manage it. For instance, they might take deep breaths, count to five, or give themselves a hug. They could draw a picture of how they are feeling. The distraction may be enough to settle them down. And, once they are used to these techniques, they will be able to do them without a reminder from you.
The key with self-control is helping our children understand they have a choice on how they are going to handle certain situations. Life has its many challenges, however, with the right tools, our children can practice regularly on a daily basis good habits for self-control.