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How to teach your child all about self-control

How to teach your child all about self-control

One of the important parts of early childhood development is learning self-control. Children are impulsive by nature, but life is all about taking those impulsive urges and channelling them into the self-discipline they need to become productive, balanced and happy individuals. Self-control isn’t about willpower or even restraining their lively spirits – it’s about teaching them the tools they need to make situations work to their advantage, to help them reach their goals. Here are some tips for teaching your child how to properly exercise self-control, from our nursery school in Sandton.

  • Age-appropriate learning: Brain development determines when your child has the ability to start learning to control their impulses. The part of the brain responsible for these behaviours, the prefrontal cortex, develops slowly from 6 months old and only reaches maturity in your child’s mid-20s. This means that you can only expect to start teaching self-control through the toddler stages, and that a lot of patience is needed to stimulate these neural pathways and develop these skills.
  • Develop trust: Young children start developing their self-control when they can trust that it will be rewarded. For example, asking your little one to sit on a chair and wait while you fetch the food they want is rewarded when you hold up your side of the bargain – bringing the food. Trust like this soothes anxiety and impatience, allowing your child to develop the skills to wait patiently because they know that this is how they will get what they want, and each time it happens, this behaviour is reinforced.
  • Being a role model: Parents are the primary role models for kids, so we have to keep a close eye on our own behaviours to ensure that our kids are learning good skills from us. For example, when we react angrily or personally to challenging behaviour, we are teaching them that this is the right way to react. It takes a lot of effort, especially when it’s been a rough day, but taking a deep breath and regulating your own emotional responses will pay off in the long-term, as your child will start to copy your self-control.
  • Repetition: This is the primary way that children learn, and it applies just as much to learning self-control as it does to learning to clap hands, sing a song or speak. Every time the skills are repeated and copied by your child, it strengthens the neural pathways in their brain responsible for learning in this area – and the more often you do it, the stronger and more resilient they get.

Age-appropriate, holistic learning at our nursery school in Sandton

At Doodlebugs Play School, we offer a safe, loving play school in Sandton for your baby from 18 months to 4 years old. Fully supervised by our qualified, affectionate staff, our professional child and day care centre ensures that your little one will have fun, learn and explore the world while giving you complete peace of mind. To find out more about our daily routine or to visit our nursery school, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.