5 apps to help younger kids with self-control

Discover how apps can be a great way for young kids to learn about and deal with their emotions.

Apps can be helpful tools for young kids who struggle with self-control. Certain apps can encourage kids to think before they act, keep their emotions in check, and stay focused on specific goals. Explore these options.

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1. Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings can help kids identify and express emotions through fun games and songs. The app offers four sets of activities. In one, kids can draw different feelings. In another, they sing about them. They can also step into a photo booth and pose for pictures showing different emotions.

Each activity helps kids learn about feelings and ways to handle them, including how to calm down. This app from PBS Kids is best suited for kids ages 2–5.

Available for: iPad, Android tablet, Kindle

2. Breathe, Think, Do With Sesame

This free app from Sesame Street helps teach self-control, planning, and problem-solving. There are five activities in the app: putting on shoes, saying goodbye to parents, fixing a block tower, waiting in line, and going to sleep in the dark.

In each activity, kids help a cute, animated monster calm down by breathing slowly. Then they pop bubbles to help the monster come up with a plan for the situation. The strategies often involve self-calming practices, like asking a parent for a hug. This app is best for younger grade-schoolers.

Available for: Android, iOS

3. Tico Timer

Most mobile phones and devices have digital timers that display minutes and seconds. Instead of numbers, Tico Timer uses shapes to represent time passing. If kids set the timer for two minutes, they may see a slowly shrinking circle or squares that disappear.

Tico Timer lets kids select the time, music, and different kinds of timers. It’s good for kids who need breaks and time limits to help them wait or transition between tasks.

Available for: iOS

4. Zones of Regulation apps

Zones of Regulation offers two apps. The first one, the Zones of Regulation app, is based on the “Zones of Regulation” curriculum. It’s an interactive tool designed to help kids self-regulate. Learners go on an adventure through a town filled with emotional zones, rewards, and mini-games. For instance, the Yellow Zone describes feelings like silly, scared, and upset.

The second appe helps learners manage their feelings in different settings. aIt features four emotional zones: red (anger), yellow (frustration), green (happiness), and blue (sadness). Kids can identify their emotions and learn how to move between the zones. To use the game, kids create and name an avatar. Then they move around, answer questions, and earn tokens. Kids who struggle with reading may need help with this app.

Available for: Android, iOS

5. Choiceworks and Choiceworks Calendar

Choiceworks is a platform for kids who need support with and social skills. The app covers three topics: schedules, waiting, and feelings. It uses pictures, checklists, storyboards, and more.

There’s one board for each topic, but it can be customized. Kids can create a picture schedule of their day. Or they can make a storyboard of what to do when they’re waiting or if they feel angry. A more advanced calendar app — Choiceworks Calendar — is also available.

Available for: iOS

More resources about self-control


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