Emotions & Self-Awareness Self-Control: How to Help Your Eight-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. Eight-year-olds can articulate the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors in home, school, and public settings. They can talk about how their behavior affects those around them, and this can inspire them to make good choices and exercise self-control. Encourage them to reach out for support when they feel overwhelmed by stress, anger, fear, or confusion.

Help your child develop and practice 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. 

Down The Tubes

The Odd Squad needs help fixing their transportation tubes. Your child can practice math concepts including measurement, addition and spatial reasoning skills while helping the Odd Squad make the needed repairs.

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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!"

Change the Situation

A simple and effective strategy for self-control involves changing the situation to reduce temptation. For instance, if you're trying to eat nutritiously, not having sweets in the house makes it easier to make healthy choices. Teaching kids this strategy involves helping them thinking about in advance and what they could do to "change the situation." For example, ask them, "It sounds like sometimes you and your friend have a hard time settling down after recess. What could you do to change the situation?" 

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 yell or hit, but I can walk away, 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.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Eight-Year-Old

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