What does playing “Red Light, Green Light” Teach?



Self-Regulation is an important ability for kids to understand and learn

self regulation, kids, games

This may be a new term for parents, but it simply means the ability to control behavior and follow rules.  Those who successfully display self-regulation in their everyday behavior, according to PositivePsychology.com, enjoy greater well-being.

A study from 2016 showed that adolescents who regularly engage in self-regulatory behavior report greater well-being then their peers, including enhanced life satisfaction, perceived social support, and feeling “good.”

On the other hand, those who suppressed their feelings, instead of addressing them head-on, experienced lower well-being, including greater loneliness, and more negative feelings. The development of self-regulation begins early. As soon as children are able to access working memory, exhibit mental flexibility, and control their behavior, you can get started with helping them develop self-regulation.

Here are a few activities to build self-regulation: 

  • Red Light, Green Light: Kids move after “green light” is called and freeze when “red light” is called. If a kid is caught moving during a red light, they’re out.

  • Mother May I: One child is the leader. The rest of the children ask: “Mother may I take [a certain number of steps, hops, jumps, or leaps to get to the leader]? The leader approves or disapproves of the action. The first child to touch the leader wins.

  • Freeze Dance: Turn on music. When the music stops, the children have to freeze.

  • Follow My Clap: The leader creates a clapping pattern. Children have to listen and repeat the pattern.

  • Loud or Quiet: Children have to perform an action that is either loud or quiet. First, pick an action, i.e., stomping feet. The leader says “loud,” and the children stomp their feet loudly.

  • Simon Says: Children perform an action as instructed by the leader, but only if the leader starts with, “Simon says . . .” For example, if the leader says, “Simon says touch your toes,” then all the children should touch their toes. If the leader only says, “Touch your toes,” no one should touch their toes because Simon didn’t say so.

Some further suggestions come from the Your Therapy Source website: https://www.yourtherapysource.com/



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