Parenting Connection: How to teach self-regulation in young children

Parenting Connection

It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: How to teach and encourage self-regulation in young children.

Our current pandemic is forcing us all to stay home and wait, and waiting isn’t a skill most young kids have. Child experts say, that’s because little ones haven’t learned how to self-regulate yet and are rarely in control of their impulses. That’s why the inability to wait with young kids is often followed with crying, whining, or a tantrum — and ironically, causes the parent to be impatient.

Child experts say, waiting is tough to teach to young kids because it’s an abstract concept. Children are usually living what experts call a serve-and-return sort of life. For example, a toddler cries and mom and dad come to the rescue. Here’s why development experts say it’s extremely important to teach kids how to self-regulate:

*Learning how to wait helps kids develop longer attention spans
*Improves memory skills
*Helps kids gain power and control over themselves
*Develop empathy for others

Here are some tips from experts at Michigan State University Extension to teach and encourage self-regulation skills:

*Start with small wait times, for example, purposely have your kid wait an extra few minutes to do something he or she wants.
*Be clear and avoid using words like later or soon when it involves waiting. Provide the exact details, that’ll also help them learn the concept of time.
*Empathize with them about how tough it is to wait.
*Make a game out of it.

Child development expert Kendra Moyses with Michigan State University says, a fun way to incorporate how to wait, is through using timers. “We practice waiting with a timer because it is a physical thing kids can see. So, if you have 15 minutes before you are leaving, you can set a timer so they can see it counting down, and we encourage you to give countdowns because time is such an abstract concept for young children.”

Child experts also say, teaching skills like self-regulation and learning how to wait will take some patience of your own, but there may not be a better time than now to get it started.

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