Teaching a child self-control: ways for all ages

According to a new study published in Psychological Science, the journal of the Psychological Science Association, children who learn self-control from their parents not only learn the skill quickly, but also retain it for life.

The researchers also found that children with self-control skills show more attention to complex tasks and easily suppress impulsive behavior. As adults, they spend 40% less time looking for work than those who, as children, were not distinguished by exemplary behavior.

How to teach a child self-control 

Self-control is a fundamental resource in the life of every person. First of all, it allows you to avoid “getting into trouble”, because it promotes calmness even in the most difficult situations. By avoiding scandals, a person establishes and maintains connections that, without the necessary skill, are easily destroyed. In addition, children with poor self-control during adolescence easily succumb to peer pressure and may cross the line of antisocial behavior or exhibit alcohol and drug use.

Although most children achieve certain abilities at different ages, it is also true that some of them acquire self-control earlier than their peers. However, parents will have to try for this, since it is they who set the right example, and the child, observing the reaction of an adult under difficult circumstances, draws conclusions for himself. Let’s look at the points, what actions will help to cultivate self-control in a child.

1. The first way to teach children self-control is, as we have said, the example of adults. If the parent himself gives up in a difficult situation, for example, immediately starts swearing, screaming without really understanding the reasons, which often happens, then there is a 100% chance that the little heir will show the same traits.

It is important not to succumb to such a temptation in the case when the child is annoying. The best way to deal with emotions is to ignore them if no amount of asking is helping to correct the behavior. Thus, the pupil receives a valuable rule – no matter what happens, always be calm. It also helps prevent unwanted behavior in the future, as threats only reinforce pampering or unnecessary pushiness. Using the method, you should take into account age, emotional and cognitive abilities and help the child correct behavior.

2. Up to 2 years. Very young children are often frustrated by the “I want to but can’t” inconsistency and for this reason end up in an irritable state that is passed on to parents. Crying, throwing, hysteria – it is difficult, but it is necessary to endure. Usually, a small child stops crying when offered a pleasant distracting stimulus, such as a bright book, a new toy. As the second year of life approaches, it is recommended to use short “time-outs” – a capricious person can be taken to his room, asking him to return after he has calmed down. The method shows that outbursts of anger have consequences and it is better to spend time alone when you feel especially annoyed, so as not to spoil the mood of others or break off relationships.

3. 3 to 5 years. The “time out” method should last no more than five minutes, or less if the misbehavior ended early. For some whims, the period of loneliness can be slightly increased by taking in hugs after the mood is normalized. At this age, the child understands the requirements and the request to restrain himself is more than appropriate.

4. 6 to 9 years old. At the age of 6, children usually start attending elementary school, where there are usually stricter rules than in kindergarten, and soon, your ward notices the consequences of certain behavior, he learns to control himself and make the right choice. It is time to teach the student the most effective strategies. For example, stop and think before you act. Or, study with him, different ways of responding to certain situations, evaluating the possible consequences, both negative and positive. One of these ways is to relax in a stressful environment or change activities to distract from negative thoughts.

5. From 10-12 years old. Children of this age can now analyze an action and anticipate its outcome. It is important to encourage young people to talk about situations in which control is lost and to find a way out as a family. Finding out the real reason, the methods of self-control found, greatly facilitate the understanding of what is happening and increase the likelihood of a calm reaction to a difficult situation.

6. From 13 to 15 years old. Adolescents are not always able to appreciate the long-term consequences of actions. Here it is necessary to encourage the development of visualization skills, the expression of thoughts and feelings.

It may happen that, despite our attempts to help, the child sometimes loses control or loses his temper in situations where we do not expect it. This should not be a cause for concern, and young children find it difficult to control behavior when they are tired, hungry, or not feeling well. And of course, one should not condemn for expressing dissatisfaction, but calmly explain the possible consequences.

However, when the pupil is prone to frequent polemical behavior, we notice that he often behaves antisocially, impulsively, or outbursts of anger occur regularly and last more than 10 minutes, it is likely that our help is not enough. Then you will need to consult with a specialist, primarily a pediatrician, since such manifestations may indicate neurological abnormalities.