Self-management is the ability to control your actions and emotions, and being able to recognize emotions is a key building block of self-management. It is a social-emotional skill that is associated with academic success. Self-management also covers skills like impulse control, goal-setting, and perseverance. As your child develops more self-management, she will be better able to handle upsetting situations like being left out, losing a game, or being teased, which can all affect her classroom performance. Self-management will also help her handle high-pressure situations like taking a test or competing in sports. The ability to self-regulate and manage emotions and behaviors is constantly evolving, especially for children this age. You may notice that one day your child is able to calm herself easily, while on another day she may burst into tears over a similar upsetting event. Every child develops at her own pace and that pace can change daily. It is important for you to continue to support your child through her development and give her the tools to be successful even on days when she feels a bit off.
The late elementary years are a time of great personal and social growth. As children grow older, they become better at making decisions, solving problems, and working in groups. Early adolescence begins around the age of 11, and this brings along its own challenges. As children’s bodies begin to change their emotions can seem to change at a moment’s notice. Developing your child’s social and emotional skills can help him manage his emotions and behavior and make responsible choices. 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).
Your child should be able to recognize socially appropriate responses to emotions. For example, your child should know that throwing a temper tantrum at the grocery store over which type of cereal your child wants for breakfast is not an appropriate response to feeling disappointed. By fifth grade, your child should be able to reflect on possible consequences before expressing their emotions.
Your child should be able to recognize ways your child can deal with upsetting emotions. For example, your child should have some ways to calm herself, whether it’s removing themselves from an upsetting situation, taking deep breaths, or counting to ten before moving forward.
Your child should be able to identify how obstacles are overcome to achieve goals. This can be from personal experience, like when your child learned to ride a bike without training wheels, or from examples in books or television shows. Your child should also be able to remember when they were successful and recall the ways your child could apply what worked in that situation to future goals. For example, if your child improved their reading ability, your child should realize that improvement happened because your child spent more time practicing outside school.
Keep in mind every child develops at his own pace, both physically and emotionally. If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact your health care provider or your child’s teacher or school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your child with our fourth-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.