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Self Control Activities for Kids: 10 Fun and Practical Ways to Help Your Child Develop Emotional Regulation Skills

May 6, 2024

4 min read

self control activities for kids. A parent does yoga as a self control exercise with her child.

Attention parents! Get ready for a game-changing discovery that will transform your child’s tantrums into incredible growth opportunities. We’ve uncovered ten groundbreaking self-control activities that are not only fun but also highly effective in helping kids, especially those who are neurodiverse, develop crucial emotional regulation skills. These exciting activities will have your child learning patience, discipline, and thoughtful decision-making in no time – all from the comfort of your own living room!

Board Games

Hey, board games are a hidden gem for kids’ self-control activities. Now, why do I say that? These colorful sets often need kids to overlook immediate gratification to focus on a more rewarding long-term goal – victory. For instance, chess subtly teaches the art of patience and strategic planning. You see, your child has to resist making hasty moves and instead plan a few steps ahead. It’s amazing how much a game night can foster!

Note: Be patient with your child, especially when starting out. Winning isn’t the goal here; the journey towards self-control is. After all, aren’t all the best lessons learned on the road less traveled?

Goally | The Safest Tablet for Kids

A young child demonstrates brushing teeth on the best tablet for kids by Goally, highlighting a kid-friendly interface.


Remember Jenga, the game with loads of wooden blocks? Yes, it’s one among many fabulous self-control activities for kids — certainly more than wrecking a tower. In Jenga, a block’s journey from the tower’s center to the top requires quiet concentration and deliberate actions. And that’s precisely what we need! This game orchestrates the perfect balance between fun and learning. Moreover, it helps kids to regulate their impulses while also indirectly promoting fine motor skills and spatial awareness.

Note: Just to add bearing to the venture, make an event out of it. A sunny afternoon in the backyard or a warm indoor evening. Trust me, the giggles and the mini-heart attacks with every sway of the tower are worth cherishing!

Navigating Self Control Through Routines

You know what, something as simple as a daily routine is a lesson in patience and self-control! And this is especially true for neurodivergent kids. As our daily life is primarily patterned around routines, letting kids participate in activities that mimic this structure can be very beneficial. For example, if the morning routine is to brush, have breakfast, and then play, your child learns to wait to play until after he’s done with the other activities. ‘Before’ and ‘after’ soon become clear, helping them manage their time and, more importantly, teaching them to hold off immediate pleasures.

Note: Let kids in on the secrets! Make a visual schedule and place it where they can easily see. This way, they know what’s coming next, and it reduces the looming anxiety of uncertainty.

A Different Response: Modifying Behaviors

Raising a child is not a monologue but a dialogue. Sometimes, showing kids alternative ways to respond when things get complex or frustrating is important. For example, when your child is upset about losing a game, you can suggest alternative reactions: taking a deep breath, saying something positive, or simply walking away to calm themselves. In other words, proactive engagement is the key to teaching kids how to modify their behavior instead of just reacting impulsively.

self control activities for kids. A boy is walking on a log for balance with his dad practicing self control.
Read More: Mindfulness Meditation

Note: Make this a daily practice. Let them know it’s okay to feel frustrated, but how they express it matters. In time, you’ll see changes that can make a difference.

Positive Modeling

Did you know that we—adults—are valuable role models for kids? Just like how fashionistas look up to their style icons, kids look up to us, trying to mirror how we act and react. For instance, losing a game gracefully teaches them that it’s just a game, and it’s okay not to win every time. Over time, kids learn to manage their emotions and reactions better. Most importantly, they develop self-control in a real and substantial way.

Note: Remember to point out when you’re modeling good self-control behavior — like patiently waiting in line, finishing a task before moving to a fun activity, or calmly handling a stressful situation. It lets them know why it’s important.

Practicing Perseverance

Last but not least, teaching kids how to persevere can go a long way in lending them a hand in their self-control journey. It’s like training for a marathon — and life, after all, is quite the marathon, isn’t it? Please encourage them to complete tricky puzzles, practice a sport, or master a new skill. Sure, there will be their share of failures and frustrations, but let them know it’s a part of life and that continual effort truly counts.

Note: Celebrate their efforts, no matter how small they might seem. It’ll boost their confidence and motivate them to keep going. And that’s what exercising “muscle control” truly signifies.

Goally tablet showing Mood Tuner, the emotional regulation app for kids to help them manage big emotions.

Paving the Way to Self-Control, One Activity at a Time

Fostering self-control in kids isn’t a one-stop destination but a journey filled with fun detours and meaningful pit stops. Remember, these simple yet effective self-control activities for kids can powerfully add to their life toolkit, setting them up for success in ways more than one. By transforming board games into teaching platforms, sunny afternoons into Jenga lessons, and everyday routines into patience builders, you’re cultivating a holistic environment where self-control can flourish with ease. So, why wait? Let’s step into this enriching journey, leading our kids confidently through the paths of patience, discipline, and self-regulation. Indeed, there’s no better gift you can give your child and no better way to shape influential citizens of tomorrow.

FAQs About Self Control Activities for Kids

Why is self-control important for children?
Self-control is important for children as it lays the foundation for emotional regulation, impulse management, and successful social interactions, which are essential for personal growth and success.
How can apps help in teaching self-control to kids?
Apps like visual schedule planners and emotional regulation tools can help teach self-control by providing structure, guidance, and positive reinforcement for practicing self-regulation and developing emotional intelligence.

What role does physical activity play in self-control development?
Physical activities like yoga and balance games improve focus, balance, and emotional regulation, as they often require sustained attention, patience, and coordination, fostering self-control in children.
How can I help my child identify and manage their emotions?
Using tools like the Emotional Thermometer can help your child recognize, label, and discuss their feelings, enabling them to better understand and manage their emotions, thus enhancing self-control.
Can mindful breathing exercises assist in self-control development?
Yes, mindful breathing exercises can assist in self-control development by teaching children to focus, calm their minds, and regulate their emotions, improving overall emotional regulation.

This post was originally published on 04/06/2023. It was updated on 02/07/2024.

Article by

Emily is a seasoned blog writer for Goally, leveraging her extensive background in child psychology and special education to provide valuable insights and resources for parents. Her commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of these children, combined with her expertise in educational strategies, makes her a credible and empathetic voice for families.