How to Teach a Child Self Control

Updated on October 05, 2012
C.L. asks from Charlottesville, VA
7 answers

My 10 year old son has issues with self control, as in talking to friends during class time, running in the hallways, obnoxious behavior with younger friends.... General self control issues. I had a phone call from his teacher today who said she had to tell him several times today to stop talking with friends or to raise his hand in class. He is a very intelligent kid and could be a great leader if he didn't allow himself to get like this. We had a good discussion and want to come up with some tools for HIM to realize when he is getting out of control... something intrinsic, instead of parents/teachers punishing him. Can you suggest any tools we can give him? He needs to get it together before middle school next year!

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answers from San Francisco on

I believe in practice, practice, practice. So, if he's unable to control his talking without raising his hand, then when he comes home I would tell him that he's going to practice so for the next 2 hours he cannot talk until he raises his hand and is called on. It's just a matter of making it a habit.

I would practice with him every day until you hear from the teacher that he has shown great improvement.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Tae Kwan Do is pretty good with the right teacher. He needs to see the benefit of self control and not get his attention by negative actions. Ask his teacher if you can bring him early and let him "help" her. Be sure he gets time with friends. Point out what you see in him that you value. Reward good behavior daily with praise. Get the 5 Love Languages for kids and find what says love to him and do it. Take him on a trip to a college and maybe a game. Give him a goal and let him earn it. Work = self esteem. Both of you volunteer.
But for day to day if he is up when others are down, if he is talking when everyone is quiet, if he is touching someone else, if he is not reflecting the respect he wants then he needs to pull back. If his teacher calls him down more than once his butt needs to be in his seat and his mouth shut. Not one more word. Leaders put their energy into behavior that will be constructive. Smart but out of controll, need not apply.

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Mom:

Change roles from Mom to a Facilitator:
Call a family circle to have a discussion about the

Give the backgroud of the problem.
For example: The teacher called me and reported........... on Date...........
Son, I woud like for you to tell us:

1) What happened?
2) What were you thinking of at the time?
3) What have you thought about since?
4) Who has been affected wh what you have done?
In what way?
5) What do you think you need to do to make things right?

Write down what he says he needs to do to make things right.

Next ask the others in the circle these questions and you respond to
the questions last.

1) What did you think when you realized what had happened?
2) What impact has this incident/s had on you and others?
3) What has been the hardest things for you?
4) What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

Write down what the agreements are.

Review them with him and ask him if they are okay with him?

Ask him what the consequences need to be if he doesn't follow through with the agreements?

Good luck.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

What have you taught him at home? Is he allowed to interrupt you when you talk, or have you taught him to say excuse me and then wait patiently and quietly. Are you strict about him being respectful when you're on the phone? Have you taught him that asking for something doesn't get you what you want UNLESS you ask VERY politely. Have you taken him to a movie, to a restaurant, to church/temple, to a library, to a nursing home and insisted he act appropriately? If you have already taught him these things (and I assume at age 10 you have already) then he should be ready to learn it at school. Sometimes parents give up on these things because they have kids who are extra talkative, fidgity, impulsive but that just means the parents have to work harder to teach these skills. It will be easier for him to learn ONE on one before they can be habits in school. It will be easier for you to insist on appropriate behavior in your home and when you take him out in public before he is able to continue in school with many distractions and stimuli.

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answers from Charlotte on

I love Cheryl B's idea. And don't allow him to remove himself from you by hiding in his room.

I would also withhold a beloved activity (TV, gameboy, x-box, computer, etc) from him if he is beligerent about having to raise his hand at home.

Unless he has ADHD, he is capable of stopping the behavior. It isn't easy. He has this impulsive trait in his personality and it's hard for him to control it. However, control it he must!

Having a code between you two, a word or an action, when you are together outside of school is also a good idea. One of my friend's peds told her that she had a niece who was really bad about leaving her dirty underwear all over the floor. When she came to visit, the ped would say a code word to her when she left her clothes in the floor. Finally, the niece asked what her aunt was talking about, and the aunt said that her name for her was that code word when she left her dirty clothes on her aunt's clean floor. After that, there were no more dirty clothes in the floor when she visited her aunt. Funny, when the ped went over to her niece's house, all she would have to do was look at her room's floor, look right in her face, and the girl would clean up the floor because of remembering the code word.

Maybe you could try something like that.




answers from Pittsburgh on

Good reasons for developing self control: Compared with people who have high self-control, people with low self-control die younger, have more psychiatric issues and disorders, are less healthy, are more likely to be obese, smoke, and drink or use drugs, are more likely to have unsafe (and impulsive) sex, drive drunk, and commit crimes!

There are two very important issues to be aware of.
First, if we constantly try to influence and subtly (or explicitly) control our children they will not develop self-control. That's because we will be in control. Decades of research shows that being too controlling of our kids is bad for their development.
Second, demanding that a child control himself (or herself), while not only controlling, can sometimes be age-inappropriate. We must ensure we are encouraging our children to do things that are age-appropriate.

Make sure to watch the Marshmallow Experiment movie!



answers from Washington DC on

Have you tried a reward system charts?

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