Supporting a Child to Achieve Self-Regulation with 4 Games (No Equipment Needed!)

Self-regulation in children refers to their capacity to produce appropriate behavioural and sensory reactions to any situation, as well as the ability to exercise self-control.

Having strong self-regulation has been positively associated with improved academic results. Reading, vocabulary and mathematics scores were higher among children with higher levels of self-regulation. Furthermore, some studies have linked young children’s capacity to self-regulate to better educational levels in the future. The capacity to self-regulate is an incredibly crucial skill that children must learn.

Games can provide a safe environment for children to learn about self-regulation. The skills learnt here would then be applied to real-world situations. To help with the process of learning to self-regulate, here are 4 simple games to try out in class or at home:

  1. Red Light, Green Light

This classic game can be played from groups of 2 onwards. Children move when it is ‘green light’ and stop when it is ‘red light’. The colours can either be said by the moderator or you can invest in a blinking light buzzer that changes colour randomly. The goal would be for children to improve their patience in waiting and listening skills. 

  1. Musical Chairs

The game is simple in nature and benefits from having more people to play it. Children dance around a ring of chairs and attempt to sit on one when the music stops. Disagreements are likely to happen with this activity. That makes it an excellent exercise to teach children how to cope with arguments and emotions when they are disqualified.

  1. Simon Says 

The idea of this game is to test how good a child can listen to instructions. Appoint one person as Simon and the rest have to follow his instructions by doing the actions he says. The instructions always start with ‘Simon says’. If not, the instructions are to be disregarded. Children would learn how to focus and monitor their own behaviour to reduce impulsivity. 

  1. Board Games

Most board games such as Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders require a length of time to play. Actions taken now could have consequences in the future of the game. These games are splendid as family bonding time and teach your children about thinking through their actions. Additional skills such as counting or reaction speed could also be trained.

Self-regulation is a skill that involves many components. For many children, it may take a period of time before they perfectly regulate their responses to stimuli. Did these games help your child learn how to self-regulate? Let us know!

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