Self-management is built on a foundation of self-awareness. If your child can accurately identify their feelings and how they drive their behaviors, your child 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.
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. 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 kindergarten, your child may be able to identify ways to calm themselves and ways to deal with emotions that are upsetting. Your child 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. Your child should also be able to wait their turn, whether they're in the classroom or playing with friends.
In these younger years, goals can simply be getting dressed in the morning without being told, cleaning up in the kitchen, picking up their toys and games, or reading a new book from beginning to end without help. Your child should also be able to set some goals, better-known at this age as wishes, and work toward them. For five- and six-year-olds, setting a goal can be as simple as following directions when helping to bake cookies; washing hands, mixing dough, rolling it into balls, and dunking the cookies in milk after they’ve baked and cooled. Another example of an age-appropriate goal is learning to ride a bike without training wheels.
Keep in mind every child develops at their 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 kindergarten self-management tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Anne Morrison, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher, Lycée Français de New York; Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; and Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids.