Teaching Children to Self-Regulate is Setting Them Up for Future Success

“I want it now!”

I can still hear the screams in my head as I think back to my daughter’s reaction to the fact that she can’t have the dolly on the shelf at the store. I know it is my job to help her work through this impulse successfully as she falls out on the department store floor kicking and screaming. But how? And what reaction should I realistically expect from her at the tender age of two? What I did not even consider was that my reaction in the moment — that “teachable moment”– would play a huge part in laying the foundation for her future success.

In a past post we discussed a current “hot topic” in child development– self control. The development of self-control, impulse control, or self-regulation in young children has been linked to success later in life. So this has many parents asking, “What do I need to be doing to help my child develop these skills?”

Before we begin to answer this question we must first begin to understand a few things that can have an impact on self-control such as:

*a child’s temperament

*the child’s development of executive functioning skill development

*children’s context (the situation the child is currently in)

*child’s mood

*child’s experience of a particular event (such as schedule change, life change, trauma)

*and most importantly, the relationship that the child has with the primary caregiver, the person that teaches the child how to manage and regulate their behavior as well as models how they manage their own.

As parents, we want to do what we can to ensure future success for our children. The good news is that there are a lot of simple things that we can do to set them up for success. And most of them are FREE! For more information about what parents can do to promote healthy development of self-regulation skills in young children check out the podcast Beyond “Use Your Words!”: How Babies Begin to Develop Self-Control in the First Three Years Featuring Brenda Jones-Harden, Ph.D. brought to you by zerotothree.org.

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