My dad is a patient man. He doesn’t make any important decisions quickly, and always makes time for thoughtful consideration, thinking about the pros, cons and consequences before making any decision, let alone engaging in any action. While this is an admirable trait, it was very frustrating when I was a child. When my parents decided my sister and I could get a video game system, we were beyond excited. I ran immediately to the door, ready to go to the store and pick one out. But we waited. And waited. And I whined. And complained. And whined some more. I wanted to do it right now. My dad did his research and weeks later we had finally decided what to purchase and eventually made our way to the store.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my dad was showing and teaching skills of self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control thoughts, emotions and behaviors. It is a learned skill and something that takes a lot of practice to develop. It is very important that children develop these skills for regulating their emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Children who practice and develop self-regulation can stop themselves from hitting another child when they take a toy from them, they can calm themselves down enough to talk through a problem instead of having a temper tantrum and then can will themselves to wait for their turn. You can help teach young children self-regulation by helping your children to practice waiting, setting limits (which is more than just saying no), and teaching problem solving skills
My dad has great self-regulation, he thinks before he speaks, pauses before lashing out with anger or frustration, and takes time before he acts. By watching him, and waiting for him I learned and practiced these skills as well. And while I may not take as much time to make thoughtful decisions as he does, I can credit much my self-control to his example.
Kylie Rymanowicz, Extension Educator
Michigan State University Extension