Your child finds it difficult to wait for his turn to play, interrupts during conversations, snatches things from others - chances are, he lacks self-control. Here's what you should do
The ability to stop and think before you act is a quality admired by everyone. While young children lack self-control, most of them begin developing it as they grow older. However, there are a few who need help in controlling their impetuous nature.
Impulsive behaviour, needless to say, can affect a child in many adverse ways. Some of the ill effects include:
If your child also acts in ways which suggests that he lacks self-control, here are some things you can do to help him develop self-regulation.
1. Help understand feelings: The ability to recognise and label feelings helps a child express them in appropriate ways. However, children learn this gradually. The inability to understand their emotions, coupled with a lack of expressive skills, can sometimes make children react in an impulsive manner. For example, a child who is happy and excited may push the child next to her instead of telling her the emotions she is experiencing.
2. Connect before speaking: Most of the time, children are eager to get on with what they want to do or what they have been told to. They find it difficult to wait and listen to instructions. Acting without thinking or listening to advice can sometimes have undesirable consequences like the child getting hurt.
3. Instil a problem-solving mindset: The world is a complex place and children aren't born with the knowledge or the ability to solve the problems that come their way. As a result, they feel frustrated when they hit a roadblock while doing something. This can cause them to act in haste. For example, if your child isn't able to open a jar, she may drop it on the floor in anger instead of bringing it to you to open.
4. Teach calming techniques: Children feel different emotions like over-excitement, frustration and anxiety. However, they don't know how to overcome or deal with, such feelings. As a result, they may express themselves in unacceptable ways. For example, an overjoyed child could disturb the class or unwittingly cause a commotion, in his happiness and excitement.
5. Play self-regulation games: Children love to play, not only with their friends but also, with their parents. Play is not only critical for a child's physical and mental development but also a great opportunity to teach a child valuable life lessons like self-regulation.
6. Discuss and set rules and consequences: Rules help provide structure to your child's life. Your child realises that there are things he can do, and others that he cannot. They also help him understand what is expected of him and others around him. Along with rules, it is also important to familiarise a child with the consequences of breaking a rule. Thus, this can help your child exert control over himself.
While you use these techniques to teach your child how to overcome unwanted behaviour, it is also important that you display self-control as well. Show empathy by trying to understand what your child wants to express, instead of being dismissive of those feelings. Remember, as a parent, you are your child's best emotion coach.
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