Self-management is built on a foundation of self-awareness. If your first grader can accurately identify their feelings and how they drive their behaviors, they will be better able to act on those feelings. Self-management allows your child to develop their ability to control their behavior and mood, which can be very empowering. Also part of self-management is the ability to set and work toward goals. In these younger years, goals can simply be getting dressed in the morning without being told, cleaning up in the kitchen, picking up his toys and games, or reading a new book from beginning to end without help.
During these early elementary years, when children are in a formal school setting, they’re interacting with more peers and adults. This increased exposure to others begins to broaden their understanding of the world. Children at this age are developing the ability to identify their feelings and what causes them. They are also learning how to manage their emotions and behave appropriately. You can help your child develop their social and emotional skills. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
In these early elementary years, your child may be able to identify ways they can calm themselves and ways to deal with emotions that are upsetting. They may also be able to stick to a routine, like getting ready for bed or getting ready for school, and be able to recognize the steps it takes for those routines to be complete. They should also be able to wait their turn, whether they're in the classroom or playing with friends.
Your child should also be able to set some goals, better-known at this age as wishes, and work toward them. For example, if they're in the seven- to eight-year-old range, they may want to get a family cat or dog. Your first grader could do small tasks around the house like caring for and feeding a fish to show he’s ready for more responsibility. These strategies could also be used for allowing sleepovers with friends. If your child shows they can follow their bedtime routine without being asked, they could be rewarded with sleepovers.
Keep in mind every child develops at their own pace. If you have concerns about your child’s development, please contact your healthcare provider or your child’s teacher or school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your child with our first-grade self-management tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids; and Anne Morrison, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Lycée Français de New York.