Component 3: Self-regulation

Learning Goal 3.b: Children develop the ability to control impulses.

By 9 months, most children:

  • Exhibit the ability to wait for a desired object or person

By 18 months, most children:

  • Amuse themselves for a short period of time
  • Respond to verbal requests to alter their behavior, sometimes continuing with the behavior and sometimes accepting the redirection
  • Say “no” to express their unwillingness (or sign “no” if they have been taught to sign)

By 24 months, most children:

  • Respond to redirection most of the time
  • Once redirected, change focus to the new object, person, or play
  • Participate in routines with adult guidance

By 36 months, most children:

  • Follow simple rules most of the time
  • Control impulses (e.g., walking around—rather than through—a puddle when directed)
  • Adapt their behavior to the environment (e.g., shifting from an “outside voice” to an “inside voice”)
  • Adjust to changes in daily routines with preparation and adult assistance

By 48 months, most children:

  • Usually follow classroom rules and expectations
  • Adjust to changes in routines and activities
  • Ask or wait for adult permission before doing something they are unsure about
  • Use materials with purpose, safety, and respect
  • Can delay having desires met (e.g., agreeing to the use of a timer to indicate their turn for a computer)
  • Stop an engaging activity to transition to another less desirable activity with adult guidance and support

By 60 months, most children:

  • With adult assistance, demonstrate control over actions, words, and emotions in response to a situation
  • Follow rules and apply them to new situations and environments (e.g., putting their coat in a cubby at school but hanging it on a peg at home)
  • Participate in group activities for increasing amounts of time
  • Consistently demonstrate the ability to stop an engaging activity to transition to another less desirable activity