Children experience the world very differently than adults. Everyday life might seem overwhelming sometimes, and kids need tools to help them cope. Age-appropriate self-control techniques for children are ways to help them deal with problems in a positive, constructive way --- skills they will carry well into their adulthood.


A major self-control technique for children involves identifying behavioral precursors -- things that set them off. Strategies for dealing with such potential turmoil could include modulation skills, such as using indoor/outdoor voices, raising a hand or placing fingers over their mouths until directed otherwise by a caregiver. Older children might step back or take a break from situations that upset them. Many teachers also use role-playing to help children distinguish between highly intense emotions, such as anger and fear. Children who are more self-aware might demonstrate better self-control.


Encourage children to express themselves in appropriate ways. Kids can do this either verbally or nonverbally, according to their age or skill-set. Three common phrases for children include "I feel, I think, I want." Nonverbal expressions include such displays as folding arms or frowning; autistic children often using stimming as a form of self-control. Children might be less likely to react violently when they experience something that upsets them if they have tools to gauge and filter themselves with various forms of language usage.

Choices & Consequences

Children must make choices about their thoughts and feelings and what to do with them. They must also understand there are consequences and rewards for whatever they decide. For example, if someone yells at them, they have a choice to yell back or walk away. Giving them the latitude to make mistakes is important. Kids who always have others make choices for them often feel powerless and vulnerable. They might want to reacquire strength through alternate means, such as bullying, cruelty, fighting and violence, for example.

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Set Goals

Self-control techniques for children include setting goals, whether daily, weekly or monthly. Again, what goals you set and how long you set them for depends largely on how old or functional a child is. Older children can sign contracts with parents to control themselves for a week or month. Teachers of smaller children might set short-term daily goals with tasks. Reward either age group accordingly.