Does Your Child Struggle With Self Control? Here’s What You Need to Know
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“This is a sponsored post written by me ZERO TO THREE for The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.”
I have been a mom for more than 16 years, and there are certain truths that I’ve come to embrace. I know that I am not the only one to know these truths since they are common among nearly all the other moms I know. There is one of these truths that stands head and shoulders above the rest. There is one thing that all moms of every age would agree on – parenting is hard!
Do you agree?
There is no manual when it comes to parenting, and just when you think you get it figured out, something happens that leaves you feeling like you’re right back to square one again.
As a mom of eight, I can say that getting kids to “behave” is also an ongoing challenge, and this starts before they can even walk. Getting kids to listen and obey, to be kind to others, to listen right away, to do things correctly, and even to use manners when eating are among the things we as parents start trying to teach our kids from their earliest years.
There is another basic skill that I know I’ve spent a great deal of time working on with my kids in the past 16 years.
Are you ready to hear what it is?
It’s teaching my kids to behave with self control.
Exercising self control is a vital skill that covers so many of the other behavioral lessons that we as parents work so hard trying to teach our kids.
While self control is a vital skill, it is also a skill that isn’t so easy to teach kids.
This also makes it something that can be frustrating for parents. I know I have found myself in this camp at times.
But did you know that feeling frustrated with my younger kids when they aren’t practicing self control is often more my issue than theirs? Yikes!
But, there’s help with all things parenting.
There is a fantastic resource filled with wisdom, practical advice, and encouragement on nearly every parenting topic available. It’s called ZERO TO THREE, and you can find it online at www.zerotothree.org.
It’s one of my go-to resources when I’m feeling challenged or frustrated as a parent to younger kids.
It was there that I was reading and found that I many times, I am expecting more out of my kids than they can physiologically manage when it comes to self control.
The truth is, that although I may be one of the 56% of parents who believe that my youngest kids can control those impulses that make them do something they know they aren’t supposed to do, their brain is just not capable of making the right choice much of the time.
In fact, according to ZERO TO THREE, the actual age that the brain begins to become capable of exercising self control is three-and-a-half.
And then, they actually have to be older than four in order to exercise self-control consistently.
Ouch. I have been setting my expectations way too high.
After exploring the topic of self control on ZERO TO THREE further, they shared some amazing truths that we parents need to keep in mind when it comes to the expectations we have of our youngest kids when it comes to self control.
Check these out.
Recognize that it’s hard to be a toddler
It’s true. Our toddlers need to adapt to our lifestyle in many cases. They have very little say in how their daily lives go, which can make their emotions flair at times. According to ZERO TO THREE, it’s important to let your kids know that you understand the things they’re thinking and feeling. This is such great advice.
Play games that practice impulse control
I love this tip from ZERO TO THREE. This is something that I have done with my kids since my oldest was a toddler. One of my favorite ways to help my young ones practice impulse control is to do what I call “blanket training.” Kids who are even under the age of one can learn to play quietly on a specific blanket for a short amount of time. They get their blanket, and few toys, and instructions to remain on the blanket for a few minutes. It takes a lot of training, but in time they learn how to resist their own urges to get up and run away before it is time and remain on their blanket quietly playing until it is time to get off the blanket.
Make a plan for how to help your child cope with experiences that are especially hard for your child
This is SO good. When you know that your child will have something challenging to deal with, come up with ways to be proactive about that. For instance, when my toddlers are going to have to sit quietly through a middle school band concert for two hours, I have to come prepared for that. I bring along toys and special snacks, their favorite books, and other things that make them feel comforted like a special bedtime blanket or toy.
Set appropriate limits with natural consequences
While they can’t fully exercise self-control, it is important to start teaching your kids how to behave with limits that are appropriate. You certainly should establish rules and boundaries – this is how they learn. For instance, my younger boys have a clock that tells them when they can get up in the morning. If they choose to get up before that time, they have to spend a few extra minutes in their room beyond when they would normally be allowed to get up. Having a specific time they can get up and then providing them with the tool they need to accomplish this is an appropriate limit that they can follow. Having to stay in their room for a bit longer when they don’t follow this rule is an example of a natural consequence.
Take your own temperature
This is so important. More times than I care to admit, I am the one to blame when my young kids are driving me crazy. It could be that I’m not being reasonable, it could be that I’m irritated or upset by something else, and it could be that I’m tired, hungry, or just worn out and being unfair with my young kids in the process. It is so important to make sure that my emotions are in check when I’m feeling as though my kids are to blame.
Parenting certainly isn’t easy, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Resources like ZERO TO THREE are totally free to use, and they can be just what you need to make it through the ups and downs.
You can even have the amazing resources from ZERO TO THREE delivered right to your inbox by signing up for their newsletter HERE.
And, ZERO TO THREE loves hearing from parents just like you! Go HERE to share your parenting story.
Parenting isn’t easy, but it is SO rewarding!