10 Fun Games to Help Your Toddler with Self-Regulation

Kids Activities
child playing with chalk for self-regulation

Kids in their toddler years like to move around and explore their surroundings! Wouldn’t you agree?

But sometimes, they’ll need to stay put and this is where self-regulation comes in. Self-regulation is an important life skill that helps them practice self-control and act appropriately in different social situations. This way, they can do better in class and life in general.

In this article, we’ll discuss all the things you need to know about it, as well as practical self-regulation activities for kids.

What is Self-Regulation?

Let’s talk about self-regulation. What is it, and why is it so important for your kids?

In a nutshell, self-regulation describes the ability to control behavior, emotions, thoughts, and actions. It teaches your child different ways to stay composed, tolerate unwanted sensations, and respond well to different situations.

It also lets them know when to go and when to stop. This way, they can step back and see if they’re still on the right track or crossing a line.

Below we’ve listed some of the benefits of self-regulation:

  • Make friends easily
  • Handle feelings properly
  • Ignore distractions and stay focused
  • Follow instructions and rules
  • Learn to wait for their turn
  • Accept unpleasant feelings (like losing a game)
  • Perform better in school

How to Teach Kids to Self-Regulate?

Teaching self-regulation is much easier with the right activities, like games!

Self-regulation games encourage your kids to follow the rules and cope with unwanted feelings when things don’t go their way. So they can be a sport, even if they lose a game.

Some helpful self-regulation strategies for kids include calming exercises, mindfulness techniques, and self-awareness activities.

Exciting Self-Regulation Activities for Kids

    1. Simon Says

This game is excellent for practicing self-control and listening skills!

The rules are simple: players can only perform an action only when the leader starts the command with “Simon says.” For example, if the leader orders, “Simon says touch your nose,” everyone has to touch their toes.

If your child moves when the leader doesn’t start the instruction with “Simon says,” they’re out of the game!

    1. Freeze Tag

A fun round of freeze tag can teach your kids to wait for their turn, which is essential to self-regulation. Here’s how to play.

One child is the tagger (or “it”), while the rest of the players have to scramble away from them. Your child has to run as fast as they can to avoid getting tagged!

But if the “it” catches a player and yells “Freeze,” they need to stay still and wait until a friend “unfreezes” them.

    1. Hand Clapping

You may have played Pat-a-cake or the Cup Game as a kid. But did you know that these hand-clapping games are among the best self-regulation games for preschoolers?

Ask your child to follow and repeat these clapping patterns after you. Try to incorporate a catchy nursery rhyme or song to make it extra fun and challenging!

    1. Red Light, Green Light

The classic “Red Light, Green Light” is one of the best games for self-regulation.

This game follows the basic traffic light system rules: red means stop, and green means go. When the traffic enforcer calls out “green light!” everyone should dash to the finish line. But if the traffic cop catches a player moving when they say “red light,” they need to go back to the starting line.

The first person to reach the finish line and tag the traffic enforcer wins the game!

    1. Wacky Relay

Add a fun twist to your typical relay races with a Wacky Relay! The game lets your kids demonstrate teamwork, exercise gross motor skills, and improve self-regulation.

For this game, you’ll need two players on each team. These players have to reach the finish line while carrying an object together using the same body part (for example, holding a soccer ball with their hands). Your kids will love this twist on traditional relay races!

    1. Freeze Dance

Spice up your kid’s party with this fun self-regulation activity. It’s an exciting way to teach them to follow simple instructions and stay put.

To start, gather everyone around and turn up the music. Once you hit stop, everyone should stay still. If someone moves, they’re eliminated from the game. Keep the dance party going until there’s only one last person standing—or dancing!

    1. Jenga

Family game nights aren’t complete without a fun round of Jenga. This game shows your kid to carefully plan their moves and take their loss like a champ!

Here’s how the game works. Each player needs to remove one piece from a tower of wooden blocks. As each player adds one block after another, the tower could get shakier until it eventually falls! Even though it can be frustrating being the last player to add the block that made the tower collapse, it’s a good exercise for self-control.

    1. Follow the Leader

Can’t get your kids to follow instructions? Maybe a game of following the leader can help.

As the name suggests, this game will need a “leader” while the rest follow their lead. The leader will perform different actions, and the players need to follow. Some activities include standing on one foot for 10 seconds or hopping twice before jumping three times.

    1. Point to the Body Part

Point to the body part isn’t just a game about self-control — it also teaches your kids about body parts!

First, the leader should call out a body part. For example, if they say “knees,” your kid has to touch their knees.

Have fun switching things up by adding twists and combining body parts. For instance, you can change the rules so that every time you say “head,” the players have to touch their shoulders instead of their head. That way, it needs your kids to pause and think first before taking action.

    1. Balloon Volleyball

Are you looking for outdoor games for self-regulation? You should try an exciting game of balloon volleyball!

Instead of using a ball like in traditional volleyball, this games uses of a balloon. Playing this game requires control so the ball doesn’t fly away or touch the floor. Your child will have fun tossing the ball in the air with their arms while controlling their movement.

Teach Impulse Control With Games for Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is a valuable life skill best taught at a young age. After all, this skill will help your child become a better student once they enter school. With the right self-regulation strategies for kids, you can steer your little ones in the right direction.

Find more fun games and activities for your kids in the Rayito de Sol blog.

March 14, 2022