what is it?

Self-management is the ability to learn and use appropriate social interaction skills, follow expectations and routines, and develop motivation for learning and achieving goals. Self-management can be used to teach children what is expected of them, such as tasks they are supposed to do. Children can learn to monitor their own behavior and control their actions by developing and practicing self-regulation techniques. Self-management helps children develop responsibility, to learn and develop skills to control themselves, to set and meet goals, and to take responsibility for their own behavior. 

why do we need it?

Developing self-management helps children use appropriate play and social interaction skills, participate in class-room routines, and engage in instructional activities. 

Children who learn self-management have more respect for themselves and other individuals. They learn how to internalize this respect, and become more responsible for their own behavior. By learning self-management, children can become more self-directed and less dependent on continuous supervision. Instead of teaching situation-specific behaviors, self-management is developing skills that can be used in an unlimited number of environments. 

A primary goal of early childhood education is to help children become more independent in managing their own behavior. For most people, this is a gradual process, which extends well into adulthood! 

what are the goals?

The learning objectives for self-management are to:

how do we teach it?

Some examples of learning activities:

books we read

how to boost it at home

words we use

Children are social beings who have a need to belong and feel significant. Create opportunities for them to share, be involved in helping out, be independent, recognized, and receive praise.

Help your child label their emotions.

Acting out behavior in young children is often related to their language development. Children express frustration when they have not yet developed language to effectively communicate their wants and needs. Help by giving them the words: “I know you’re so mad that you can’t get down from the shopping cart.”

Help your child learn what is expected.

Give clear directions and tell your child the reason for doing things. Be specific about what they should do. For example, instead of saying, “Please clean up your toys,” say, “Please put your toy trucks into the blue box so that you’ll be able to find them easily.” “Clean up your toys” can mean different things and being specific avoids frustration for both of you.

Establish routines.

We use routines throughout the day at school to help children feel more in control and know what to expect. Help your child by using pictures of home routines such as meals, toothbrushing, going to school, picking up toys, and bedtime. Put a sticker next to the activity each time your child completes it — a great way to teach self-management and work on early goal-setting. 

Set limits.

Setting clear limits and enforcing them consistently is crucial. Explain why they can’t do something rather than just telling them no: for example, “You can’t do this today because it’s raining, but we can do this instead.” Following through is just as important. By being consistent with your limits, your child learns they can trust you to do what you say. Use fair and logical consequences, but try not to set too many limits at one time. Your child needs to be able to achieve success following one limit before moving on to another. Pay attention to assess how the limits you set are affecting your child. Yelling doesn’t work in the long run and may ultimately make things worse. You don’t want to crush their spirit in the process of limit-setting. Be sure they know you love them even though you have to establish limits. 

Catch them doing well.

Positive reinforcement is vital. Be specific: “Thank you for listening to directions in the grocery store today. That was a big help!” 

Teach you child to manage anger or stress.

Give your child coping strategies for dealing with emotions rather than throwing a tantrum or acting out. One strategy is breathing deeply by blowing bubbles. First, blow bubbles with your child when they are not upset. Talk about how when your child is upset or mad, he can blow imaginary bubbles to make themself feel better. The next time your child gets upset, remind them of the strategy by saying, “Why don’t you blow bubbles to calm down,” instead of just “Calm down!” This gives a concrete strategy for self-calming to the child, and breathing deeply helps alleviate the stress that causes upset. 

Teach your child to apologize.

Young children are not always able to control their feelings and behavior. By giving your child a strategy for when they hurt someone’s feelings or behave inappropriately, you’re teaching an important skill they can turn to throughout their life. 

Give options whenever possible.

Children are learning to be decision-makers. Create an environment where they are encouraged to make choices and are actively involved in planning activities. Ask your child, “Would you like an egg or oatmeal for breakfast?” “Blue mittens or red?” 

Model stress management.

Never underestimate the power of your influence. Children learn by copying others. Manage your own stress so you can be a good role model. Try to manage your emotions as much as you are able. Make sure the kids see you going to yoga, walking around the neighborhood or just taking a voluntary time-out in another room to deal with frustration or anxiety. Try to talk through your feelings and give examples of calming strategies with your child in the moment, too. When stuck in traffic, you could say, “I’m so frustrated by this traffic. I’m going to take some deep breaths and count to ten instead of blowing my horn or yelling.” This will show your child that everyone has feelings and behaviors they have to control. 

Encourage physical activity and outdoor play.

Children are better able to control their behavior if they have opportunities to get their excess energy out. This means curbing screen time, too. If your child is having difficulty managing behavior and you feel yourself losing patience, go outside together and play. A few minutes running around outside in the fresh air does a lot to alleviate stress and restore emotional equilibrium for both of you.

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character education | november


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