Monday, October 1, 2018

Self-Regulation Skills for Toddlers

As a parent, you have likely observed that young children are not quite skilled in the art of self-regulation just yet (Tantrums!) and older children have some small capabilities (I can only handle so much before I explode!). While it is something that does develop as children mature, here are some ways to help strengthen self-regulation skills at home.

Red Light, Green Light

Most of us have played Red Light Green Light at some point, but here is a quick recap:
To play:
  • One person is selected to be the traffic cop.
  • All players stand on the starting line and the traffic cop has their back to the rest of the players. When the traffic cop says "green light," players try to run to the finish line.
  • When the traffic cop says "red light," they turn around and players have to stop in their tracks.
  • If the traffic cop catches a player moving, they are sent back to the starting line.
  • The first person to cross the finish line wins and becomes the new traffic cop.

How can you use this game to learn about self-regulation?

After you play a few rounds of the game the traditional way, switch things up. Have your child run when you say “red light” and stop when you say “green light.” This simple switch will challenge your child to actively think about and practice breaking a habit. The old rules are no longer and we have to change the way we think and process to adapt to the new rules. While on the surface, it may look easy, it’s actually some pretty serious stuff.

Mother May I? and Freeze Dance

Go ahead and try this same idea out with a variety of other games like Mother May I? and the Freeze Dance (switch up the rules - instead of taking steps in Mother May I, make it hops, do it backwards, etc. and in the Freeze Dance, dance with no music then freeze when it starts, etc.). 

Another way to encourage self-regulation is to allow for independence, so be sure to hand the over the reins to your child after they get the hang of it. You will get a moment to catch your breath and your child will enjoy feeling like they are in control. It’s a win-win!