Children are nurtured in an environment of abundant love, care and attention. It prompts them to develop the perception that they will be provided with everything they demand. It’s quite common for children to lose their self-control, which is evident when they throw a tantrum for even the smallest of things such as another piece of cake, a toy, a dress, etc. These issues may seem trivial and the shortcut approach would be to give the child what they want in order to pacify them. However, this strategy can backfire, since research studies have shown that children who lack self-control face problems with their academics. Excelling at school requires focus and discipline, which may be missing in kids who lack self-control. Children who lack self-control are also likely to face issues with other kids at the school, their teachers, and other caregivers.
Inability to develop self-control has long-term implications as well. Research studies have shown that kids who lack self-control are likely to develop aggressive behavior as an adult. They face an increased risk of addiction (alcohol, smoking, drugs) and might get involved in criminal activities. They are likely to face problems with achieving financial independence and may have to deal with multiple health issues. Such possibilities may appear scary, but parents need not lose all the hopes, as they can start to teach self-control to their kids at an early stage. It may be challenging initially since kids are not programmed to interpret the concept of self-control and they don’t have the capacity to understand the implications of their actions. However, parents can still win by using the right techniques and strategies. Here are 7 effective ways to teach your kids the art of self-control.
#1 Involve your kid in everyday chores:
Assigning certain tasks to your kids at home that can help them develop a sense of responsibility. For example, you can ask your kid to arrange the books on the shelf in an alphabetical order; tidy up their room; arrange the things needed to bake the cake, etc. Such tasks would require focus and patience, which would help your kid develop self-control. They would also get to understand and appreciate the efforts that you make to keep the house in a livable condition.
#2 Encourage games and sports:
You need to find some time to play games and sports with your kid. The approach should be to challenge your kid so that they are motivated to give it their best to win. For example, you can challenge them to a game of scrabble, which would improve their focus and thinking ability. You need to choose games and sports that your kid likes so that they can be self-motivated to win the game. In learning to win, your kid is likely to learn the art of self-control.
#3 Remind your kid regularly:
Children are forgetful and get easily distracted. It would help if you keep reminding them about self-control. Whenever you sense that your kid may be on the verge of losing their self-control, you can quickly remind them about the talk you had last time. A proactive approach helps since a full-blown tantrum is difficult to manage. Reminders will help your kid to differentiate between their acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
#4 Promote a disciplined lifestyle:
You can fix a specific time for certain things, for example, a fixed time to eat breakfast, watch television, go to bed, etc. A disciplined lifestyle will help your kid to develop self-control. It’s obvious that not everything can be fixed to a clock, but even if you allocate 2-3 tasks every day in this manner, it would be helpful for your child. You can also create some free days to let off the pressure and eliminate the drudgery if any.
#5 Tell them a story:
When it’s time to put your kid to bed, you can share with them some stories that may relate to self-control and its benefits. You can share your own experiences with them or read them stories from a book that has values relevant to self-control. Any story that talks about overcoming challenges and achieving one’s goals would be appropriate. Later, you can ask them what they have learnt from the story to ensure that they are getting your point.
#6 Be appreciative:
Sometimes your kid may lose their self-control whereas at other times, their behavior may be a perfect example of self-control. The latter could have been done intentionally, or it could be another aspect of your kid’s personality. Whenever your kid displays self-control, you need to appreciate them for their behavior. When they notice a smile on your face and your appreciative gestures, they will be motivated to improve their self-control.
#7 You too need to practice self-control:
It’s widely accepted that children take behavioral cues from their parents. If you want your kid to learn self-control, you too have to practice it on an everyday basis. If you misplace your cellphone and tear your hair searching for it, your kid may get all the wrong signals. In comparison, if you act calmly and ask your kid to help you find the cellphone, it would set the right example. If your kid has siblings or if there are other family members, you need to inform them as well, as their actions might also influence your kid’s behavior.
When teaching the art of self-control to your kids, you need to be firm in your approach. However, getting angry or shouting at your kids are things that need to be avoided, as it would hurt the child’s psyche. Your child may display extreme emotions such as yelling or throwing or breaking stuff in the house, but this should not prompt you to respond in the same manner. You need to be calm, talk to them firmly and inform them about the consequences that their actions could have on them and others. Every time you utilize this approach, your child will learn a little more about the art of self-control. They may also develop an admiration for your cool-headed approach and may start reciprocating in a similar manner.