Hand Folding: Establishing Self-Control

How to use hand folding to help your little one gain control and stop misbehaving. This simple tool works!

child folding hands

In Toddlerwise, it talks about the idea of hand folding. This is referred to as self-control training with hands. “When you begin to see those early signs that your kids are going to lose it, physically or verbally, instruct them to fold their hands and work on getting some self-control” (p. 157).

I must admit, when I first read that I thought, “Right. Have you ever met my little guy? He is such a bundle of energy. He can’t even sit still to watch a TV show.” I know. I doubted. I doubted even though it specifically mentions this is good for those “movers and shakers.” Plus, the book refers to this situation in regards to two-and-a-half or older. So, I decided to wait to implement the idea.

Then, it sort of just happened. We were out swimming last summer. Brayden was barely two years old. My husband and he were waiting in line for a water slide. My husband was a bit concerned because really in Brayden’s life he doesn’t need to wait long for much. Naturally he needs to more now that he has a younger sister, but at the time she was two months old and he wasn’t really aware of the fact that this new phase was permanent. So my husband explained to him that he needed to wait his turn because all of the people in front of him were first and got to take their turn before he did. My husband suggested they fold their arms to wait.

So they did, and Brayden became a hand folder. Well, arm folder. I often find that when I tell him he needs to wait for something, he will nod resolutely and fold his arms and wait. He gets it. He has skills to cope with the need to wait. Let’s be honest, nobody likes to wait. Have you ever noticed how grown adults think they need to be ahead of everyone else in lines? The majority of people think whatever they have going on is far more important than what anyone else has going on. We cut each other off in traffic. We get very agitated when kept waiting in the doctors office. I could go on.

The skills to patiently wait are not only beneficial for your child as a toddler, but for the rest of his life. If he can patiently wait now, then imagine how amiable he will be as an adult! Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go teach myself to fold my arms and wait.

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