Structured Playtime Makes Your Toddler a Self-Control Master, Study Says

Trending Now


Recent research from the University of Otago, New Zealand may have found why structured play is important for toddlers. The study, which was published in Scientific Reports, looked at the effects of a play-based intervention program on preschoolers’ self-regulatory skills.

Self-regulation doesn’t come naturally for most kiddos. But it’s a necessity for school readiness and later success. While lacking self-control to some degree is normal for a young child, when it becomes a problem the experts often need to step in. Enter the University of Otago study.

photo: FeeLoona via Pixabay

The study looked at 60 families with children ages three to four, assigning each participant group to one of two behavioral management methods. One group participated in the proposed experimental play intervention, Enhancing Neurobehavioural Gains with the Aid of Games and Exercise—a.k.a. ENGAGE. The ENGAGE method included learning self-regulation skills by playing games such as puzzles, hop scotch, musical statues and blocks. The other group received treatment with the current gold standard for pre-k kiddo behavior management in New Zealand, the Positive Parenting Programme or Triple P.

So what did the study find? The children who participated in ENGAGE did just as well, in terms of self-regulation development, as those who were in the Triple P group. Lead author Dr. Dione Healey, of the Department of Psychology said, “Our results indicate that parents spending regular one-on-one time playing with their young children has the same positive effect on children’s behavior as using behavior management techniques which have a long history of being effective in managing child behavior.”

Healey also added, “With ENGAGE, we now have an additional treatment option for young, at-risk children that is enjoyable, low cost, easily accessible and associated with long-term maintenance of treatment gains. It’s good to have a choice of equally effective options as what works well for one family may not work as well for another.”

—Erica Loop



Why Is Your Baby So Obsessed with Peek-a-Boo? Science Has Answers

Both Parents & Kids Want More Diverse Books, New Reading Report Finds

Autism Markers Aren’t Always Linked to Developing Autism, New Study Finds

Welcome to our Tinybeans family!
Be sure to check your email for new activities, recipes and parenting hacks – and to see if you’ve won!








Enter to Win a $250 Gift Card!

Enter your email and zip code below for a chance to win a Mastercard Gift Card. We’ll pick one winner per month through August 31, 2022 – 5 lucky winners in all!

I agree to the official rules and to receive email communications from Tinybeans. By providing my email address, I agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.