Tips for parents to promote self-regulation in preschool children.

By Wellbeing in Mind Psychologist Dr Denise Hatzis

Parents understand that there is an expectation that we all need to learn how to control our behaviour, our emotions and our thinking and this is a skill we need to instil in children. Control over our immediate responses to stimuli is a skill that helps us navigate our surroundings. Skills we need to learn to do this are conflict resolution, problem solving, independent thought, and interpersonal skills that allows us to be social in our dealings with others. Therefore in order to be successful in life, self-regulation skills are vital.

We learn self-regulation skill during our early years and is a vital component when entering day-care and the school system (e.g., sitting still, listening, paying attention, and getting along with others). In fact, the management of the interplay among our behaviour, emotions and thinking requires practice and support.

To help our children develop self-regulation skill, here are 5 tips parents can use to promote these skills in order to be school ready:

  1. Include your child in decision-making processes. Children learn to model the language you use, as well as the processes you enact to make thoughtful decisions. Mastery in decision making builds confidence and independent thought.

  2. Offer your child time for exploratory play. Being imaginative provides a scaffolding approach to problem solving and abstract thinking that is invaluable in the acquisition of knowledge.

  3. Provide tasks/responsibility for your child to complete independently. Encourage your child’s independence by providing tasks for them to successfully complete. Gaining the reward of completing a task fosters a sense of mastery and self confidence that influences positively future behaviour.

  4. Encourage your child in exploratory conversations. The use of language guides our thinking and our behaviour. Encouraging your child’s language development by engaging him in meaningful conversations, allows your child to explore and explain thoughts, feelings and emotions.

  5. Support emotional and behavioural self-control. For children to learn this they must see it in ourselves. Modelling positive behavioural management skills, understanding limits and providing support to help your child gain control over their behaviour is important. Help your child to explore their feelings and emotions and provide ways to diffuse negative situations that arise.

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