My daughter, who is three, is a “spirited” youngster. She was born over a month early and has since been going nonstop. Her temperament is energetic, with extreme highs and lows. Even though I don’t have to wonder where she gets it from (oops), I respect her for being able to properly communicate her feelings at any given time. She never has to worry about keeping her emotions hidden from me; quite the contrary.
With such a strong personality, my daughter needs to develop self-control. Though it’s not always simple to encourage her to control and work through her emotions, my husband and I try our best as parents to create a secure space for her to do so in our home. I think that when a child exhibits strong emotions, they are attempting to express that something is wrong. We must respect them by being as receptive and helpful as we can.
Here are 4 steps to encourage self-control in your child at home:
- Lead by example: Children learn best through observing and imitating their parents and caregivers. Show self-control in your behavior, such as speaking calmly and respectfully, managing your own emotions, and making wise choices.
- Provide clear boundaries and expectations: Children thrive on structure and routine. Establish clear rules and consequences for behavior, and be consistent in enforcing them.
- Foster emotional intelligence: Help your child understand and manage their emotions. Encourage them to identify their feelings and provide support as they work through difficult emotions.
- Provide opportunities for self-expression and problem-solving: Encourage your child to participate in activities that allow them to express themselves and work through challenges. This can help them develop their sense of self-control and autonomy.
What is self-control?
In the face of difficulty, self-regulation is all about controlling one’s emotions, behavior, and physical movements. Self-regulation looks different in a three-year-old than it does in a teenager, and it’s a difficult task at any age. For little ones, it entails things like:
- Keeping track of environmental changes
- Evaluating one’s feelings
- Managing all the data that is received from your five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch)
- Keeping your focus and concentration while completing the above
Due to various sensory differences, my daughter struggles to self-regulate. Her neurological system becomes overwhelmed as a result of taking in the environment. When this occurs, she becomes extremely anxious and may begin sobbing excessively, or her anxiousness may be mistaken for hostility. Although we occasionally understand this after it’s too late, we’d much rather avoid a sensory overload in the first place. You can assist all youngsters in controlling their emotions by establishing structures in your home.
How to Teach Self-Control
Here are a few teaching tips to get you going:
Use illustrative mini-schedules. To help my daughter self-regulate through changes or when she’s very enthusiastic about something, I make these miniature schedules. She keeps asking me, “When are we going to ?” So, I know when she needs one. Her anxiousness is reduced and she can concentrate on just one portion of the day thanks to something tangible and visual like this. To get your child thrilled, all you need is some scrap paper, coloring supplies, and enjoyable stickers.
Be ready for anything unexpected. I very clearly recall my mum informing me what would happen in advance. She recognized early on that I had a really hard time with transitions and would lose it when changes were made because she was a special education teacher. I’ve been implementing her suggestions with my three-year-old. Here are some strategies for preparing:
- In a conversation, establish expectations. We discuss what she might anticipate before we arrive at a friend’s house or a restaurant if we are going there. We’re heading to Lizette’s apartment, for example, might be what I say. You’re planning to bring your favorite toy, I see. Keep in mind that you will have to share if we bring your toy into her home. We can leave your toy at home or in the car if you’d prefer not to share.
- Delay discussing plans. It’s a good idea to wait to tell your children about tomorrow’s plans until you’re certain they’ll proceed as planned if you have younger children, toddlers, or older children who have trouble with change. After telling my daughter that we were going to visit her favorite neighbor’s house tomorrow, only to have a last-minute cancellation, I had to learn this tactic the hard way.
- Put together an activity basket. It helps to have a list of pre-determined activities for my daughter to pick from when plans change, she is overwhelmed by too many alternatives, or when a babysitter phones to tell me that my child wants to roll down the stairs for fun. Draw a variety of fun things that your child likes to do, such as playing with dough, drawing, climbing, swinging, dressing up, playing with dolls, or running an obstacle course. Place the activities in a basket after that. This is a fantastic approach to aid your child in imagining the games they can play with friends, babysitters, and family members.
Support your child’s cause.
We recently visited a farm to look at pumpkins and take part in fall-themed outdoor activities. We were informed upon arrival that our daughter needed to wear a bracelet to ride the rides. She doesn’t like the way things feel on her wrist, especially in Austin, Texas, where it’s hot and muggy all the time. So I represented her. I mentioned that she has sensory issues, and together we came up with the solution of having her wear the band in her hair.
Here are a few ways you can support a cause:
- Establish limits. My daughter would have had some extremely strong emotions and we might have had to leave the farm if I had caved and forced her to wear the wristband. It is your responsibility to speak out or teach your child to speak up for themselves when an adult, such as a classroom teacher, family member, or neighbor, expects something of your child that you know would trigger them. Next, devise a course of action or solution with your child by working together.
- Learn what triggers your child. Does your kid become overstimulated in crowded restaurants? What occurs when it is sweltering outside? Is it too difficult for your kid to visit Target without purchasing a toy? Knowing when our kids can’t manage a scenario is crucial so that we can either keep them out of it or give them coping mechanisms to deal with their emotions in healthily.
Give your youngster coping skills to use.
Self-regulation will come naturally to children as they age if we teach them coping mechanisms when they are young. Following are a handful of my favorites:
- Use soothing techniques. Since each child is unique, it is best to teach them a variety of techniques and then see which ones are most effective. Deep belly breaths, singing throughout changes, and the use of a calming jar work great for my daughter. Other suggestions include playing soft music, setting up a peace area in your home or child’s room, or utilizing weighted blankets. It’s crucial to discuss when and why we utilize soothing techniques as well as activities that adults can engage into-stress, such as tasking a warm bath with lavender.
- Discuss strong emotions. We can help our kids when they’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or uneasy when we give them the words to say how they’re feeling. One strategy is to give your child a sentence structure like “When I’m _______, I can _______.” with a list of emotion terms (like “sad,” “angry,” “glad,” “overwhelmed,” “nervous,” etc.) as well as coping mechanisms (like “Go in my swing,” “Go for a jog,” “Take a deep breath,” etc.). Additionally, you can help your youngster by posing queries like these:
How do you feel at the moment?
How does your body feel right now?
Could you consider what is upsetting you right now?
How may I help you, please?
For young children, self-regulation can be difficult, especially for those who have strong emotions. Your child will gain more resilience as a result of learning these techniques for better self-regulation. While we cannot guarantee our children an easy existence, we can provide them with the resources they require to help them adapt to challenging circumstances in healthy ways.
Future Planning of a child
It’s difficult for a young child to make a definitive decision about their future career, but there are some steps you can take to help guide them:
- Encourage exploration: Allow your child to try a variety of experiences, such as clubs, sports, arts, and community service. These experiences can help them discover their interests and strengths.
- Talk about careers: Discuss different careers with your child, explaining what people do in those jobs and what kind of education or training is required.
- Expose them to diverse careers: Take your child to job shadowing, visit college campuses, or attend career fairs to help them understand the wide range of career options available to them.
- Help them understand their values and goals: Encourage your child to think about what is important to them and what they want to achieve in their future. These values and goals can help guide their career decision-making.
- Support their interests: If your child expresses interest in a particular career, find ways to help them learn more about it and gain experience in that field.
Remember, the most important thing is to support your child in their journey and to help them or develop the skills and qualities they or will need to succeed in any career they choose.