Teaching Children Self-Control

Helping your child develop self-control can be extremely beneficial to help them succeed in the classroom, and in building positive relationships in the future. Self-control is when children learn inhibition of strong impulses, such as screaming, hitting, or throwing things. Here are some tips help your child develop this skillset early on.

  • Identify Feelings. We have all seen those doctor’s office charts using faces to identify levels of pain. Using something similar that shows a range of happy to sad, or excited to angry, emotions can help your child identify what they are feeling and communicate that easier. Once they identify how they are feeling, you can do the same so that they can recognize how their words and actions can affect others as well.


  • Use words to express/ communicate how they feel. Once they are ready to have a problem-solving conversation, have them follow this guide to ensure it goes smoothly:
  1. Wait to calm down before I talk
  2. Understand why I feel angry
  3. Tell the other person “I am angry because…”
  4. Let the other person talk
  5. Say “I prefer next time that you….. instead.”


  • Show them ways to handle anger and frustration, if they feel out of control.

  How to calm down:

  1. Take deep breaths and count to 10
  2. Take a break by myself
  3. Write out my feelings on paper and then tear it up
  4. Do something physical like run, jumping jacks, or go for a walk

Show them this 4 step process of calming down before they approach a conversation. This helps them get their anger impulses out of their system and approach a conflict rationally.

With practice, your child can train their brain to have better self-control. Remember that parents are the best teachers. Being aware of how you handle stressful situations will show them the difference between a positive and negative response to conflict.  It’s important to note that some impulse control problems could be because of an underlying condition like ADHD, so it’s important to get your child assessed if they’re struggling to develop self-control. Following these few tips and keeping them a part of your daily routine will help aid in learning self-control.