Building Inner Controls:
Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline and Self-Control

     Programmed Learning       Forms       Handbook      


Successful completion of this Programmed Learning Packet will provide you with 30 minutes of training.

Training Objectives:


  • Caregiver can identify key elements in helping children develop inner controls.
  • Caregiver can identify ways to prevent aggressive behaviors.
  • Caregiver can identify methods of providing intervention of harmful behaviors.



Children should not be allowed to hurt themselves or other people (verbally or physically) or destroy property. They must learn how to control themselves instead of depending on other people to control them. Discipline is really about building self-control.


Children Making Choices


The process of learning self-control and self-discipline is linked very closely with how a child feels about themselves and their relationship to the world. It's important that we help build and strengthen children's ability to determine for themselves what's right and wrong, and how to control their own behavior.

        It's wonderful when we can count on children to do the right thing because they want to, not because they have to. It's very important to provide as many opportunities as possible for youngsters to make their own choices and decisions. But whenever we give a child a choice, we should be prepared to honor his decision. It's also very important for children to experience the consequences of their decisions. In addition, helping them stick to decisions once they are made teaches youngsters to make responsible choices. But not everything is a choice; not everything is negotiable. Sometimes we have to say "no" to children and mean it.


Foundations in Infancy

The foundation for self-discipline and self-control begins with infancy. It's important to guide and discipline children so that they feel supported and valued, not judged and rejected. Warm, nurturing relationships plus firm controls combined with the reasons for rules help promote self-discipline and self-control in children. We can help by being consistent with children in words and deeds. Children appreciate knowing just what the rules are at home or in the classroom. That way they know where they stand and the consequences of their behavior.


Aggressive Behavior

It's important to approach aggressive behavior according to the age of each youngster. Children behave differently at different ages. Physical aggression of one kind or another is very common in the early years. It is an unavoidable part of the developmental process. Preventing problems before they start is the ideal thing to do. Here are some tips that can help prevent incidents of harmful aggression before they start:

Caregiver Intervention

Our goal is to teach our children how to solve their own problems since, as adults, they won't have a teacher or a parent to settle their differences. There are two general rules that may help you decide when to intervene: Ask yourself, what is the likelihood of someone getting hurt or property being damaged? If trouble is really brewing, be decisive. Take action yourself before the child does.






Six Steps of Intervention

There are six steps to follow when intervention is necessary:

Time Outs

"Time out" is certainly an improvement over spanking, yelling or shaking a child, but it still has its drawbacks. First of all, it's easy for a child to feel emotionally abandoned when she's sent off by herself. Besides that, we frequently become involved in secondary struggles when the child tries to sneak away and we have to catch her. Also, many time-outs go on too long, either because it's such a relief for us to have the child removed or because we forget she's there.


Letting off Steam

Some kinds of aggressive behavior are common during the early years and there is much we can do to help children let off a little steam. One way we can help is to provide plenty of large motor activity and other opportunities for children to use up their energy. In some situations, noise can also be an excellent outlet for expressing aggression. In addition, there's nothing like pounding play dough or hammering on the workbench to relieve stress, tension and aggressive feelings in a child.


Recognize Our Flashpoints

It's particularly important for us to recognize and control our flashpoints. Let's teach ourselves to model self-control. Once we've stopped the action, say to the child, "Wait a minute--I need to think this over before I decide what to do about it."


Test Questions:

4.        Discuss feelings and rules after a reasonable period of calm. This is a very important part of handling a discipline crisis because once the child knows that you understand how he feels, he won't need to keep on showing you how he feels.



 5.        It's important to help the child be successful when he does come back, so that he has the experience of knowing the adult is in charge.




 6.        Some kinds of aggressive behavior are common during the early years and therefore we must prevent them from letting off steam.



 7.        To teach self-control we should model self-control.



This article was taken from “The ABC’s of Child Development, Building Inner Controls: Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline and Self-Control”, sponsored by PBS

After completing this instrument, provide your Staff ID number, click you work "content area" and "job location". Forward to the Training Department. Your name is verification that you have read and understood the content of this module and have completed this learning program in good faith, and are willing to practice the principles outlined.

First Name     ,       Last Name              HSGD Staff ID#      
Your Content Area                Job Location     ,
"Building Inner Controls"

After sending your results to Training, please take the time to complete the training evaluation form - click here.

Return to Training Page      Programmed Learning Page