Emotions & Self-Awareness Self-Control: How to Help Your Six-Year-Old Make Responsible Choices

Emotions influence behavior. Part of growing up is learning how to manage our emotions and exercise self-control so that we can treat ourselves and others with respect. Six-year-olds can articulate the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and can often change their behavior with reminders (e.g. “Remember, we don’t run in a grocery store”). They can see how their behavior affects others and control their impulses, but will still need support from parents — particularly when they feel overwhelmed by emotions. 

Help your child develop self-control:

Practice Cognitive Control

The area of the brain in charge of focus and attention and continues to grow into early adulthood. Encourage kids to read books, play games that require attention to detail, build complex block structures or jigsaw puzzles or practice a piece of music over and over again — these are all activities that will strengthen children's capacity for self-control. 

Code Breaker

Oscar built some traps and then forgot where he put them! Your child can help identify number patterns to show the Odd Squad where they can walk safely.

Play This Game

Practice Cognitive Control

The area of the brain in charge of focus and attention continues to grow into early adulthood. Encourage kids to read books, play games that require attention to detail, build complex block structures or jigsaw puzzles or practice a piece of music over and over again — these are all activities that will help young brains grow and help kids increase their ability to persevere. 

Creature Duty

Odd Squad agents take care of all sorts of creatures. Using math skills such as color and shape matching, fair shares and fractions, your child can help feed and care for these adorable creatures.

Play This Game

Acknowledge When They Exercise Self-Control

When your child is tempted to respond one way but resists, acknowledge their self-control. This might sound like: "When your sister bumped into you, you were tempted to yell at her, but you stopped yourself! Good work!"

Cambiar la situación

Una estrategia sencilla y eficaz para fomentar el autocontrol consiste en cambiar la situación a fin de reducir la tentación. Por ejemplo, si usted está tratando de comer alimentos nutritivos, el no tener dulces en casa facilitará que se hagan decisiones saludables. Enseñar a los niños esta estrategia consiste en ayudarles a pensar de antemano en lo que podrían hacer para "cambiar la situación". Por ejemplo, pregúnteles, "Parece que a veces tú y tu amigo empiezan a juguetear en la escuela durante el rato de lectura tranquila. ¿Qué podrías hacer para cambiar la situación?" o "Te frustras cuando es hora de limpiar tus juguetes e ir a la cama. ¿Qué podrías hacer para cambiar esta situación?".

Teach Them Simple Strategies

Kids of every age sometimes feel overwhelmed by emotions or impulses, and they need simple tools that they can use to regain their equilibrium and make good choices. You can help children develop with similar simple, memorable strategies. If a child is struggling with a particular aggressive behavior, help them verbalize both what they can't do and what they can, such as, "When I'm mad, I can't hit my brother, but I can stomp my feet or squeeze my ball." You can also model the connection between mood and healthy eating, exercise and sleeping: "Sometimes when I'm frustrated, I eat a healthy snack or take a nap to help me feel better."

Help Your Child Manage Emotions with Arthur

Whether facing down a bully, worrying about a new teacher or being the very last person on earth to lose his baby teeth, Arthur and his friends manage to solve their crises with imagination, kindness and a lot of humor.

Find Activities

Activity Finder: Learn With Your Six-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: