Children are not born with self-control.
Learning self-control (or self-regulation) is one of their most important developmental tasks. Self-regulation has to do with a child’s ability to control their emotions, respond in appropriate ways to frustration, get along well with others, and eventually become independent.
Families and caregivers can help young children learn skills to help them control or regulate themselves.
Tip 1: Pay Attention
Pay attention to the signs a child is hungry, tired, or frustrated and respond consistently and predictably.
Tip 2: Provide More Opportunities
As children grow, provide more opportunities for them to make their own decisions—such as what clothes to wear, what food to eat, and where to sit—by giving them several acceptable options.
Tip 3: Provide Reminders
Provide reminders that help children make good choices and not become frustrated when they are not able to do what they want.
Tip 4: Anticipate Problems
Anticipate problems by talking beforehand about what they can expect and what will be expected of them.
Tip 5: Be Empathetic
Be empathetic and show you understand the importance of their needs and feelings.
Tip 6: Provide Positive Alternatives
Talk about what children can do, not just about what they can’t. Provide positive alternatives.
Tip 7: Create a Safe Space
Create a safe place where children can go when they need a break, to calm themselves.
Tip 8: Teach Children to Wait
Teaching children to wait helps them learn self-control and also teaches them other people have needs too. Don’t make the wait time too long, and give them something to do while they wait.
Call Pennsylvania’s CONNECT Helpline at 1-800-692-7288 for information about your child’s development and connecting to Early Intervention Services in Pennsylvania.