How parents can help their child develop self control

Self control is a learned behavior that must be practiced. Many people lack self control in at least one area or in many areas of their being. When babies are born, all they desire, is to have their needs meet. When they’re hungry, they don’t understand the concept of waiting. They want it now and will cry until they receive it. They will cry until their desires are fulfilled. As children become older, the ability to wait increases. The skill to wait for food or to receive a toy increases. This behavior is learned through the process of endurance. The steadiness of learning to wait becomes stronger. If a child receives everything he wants, when he asks for it, then he is trained to get what he wants every time he wants it. He doesn’t learn the gift of patience. Self control is the ability to practice that patience, which develops over the years.

Self control is strength of will, an ability to control or restrain yourself in your emotions, desires, your expressions and through your behavior. Galatians 5:22-23 mentions the fruit of having self control or should I say the fruit of temperance.

Lacking self control is more than a child having a temper tantrum in the middle of a crowded store. It goes beyond receiving a phone call from the care provider or teacher because the child became angry. It goes beyond a child throwing a toy or refusing to do his homework. Teaching your child self control is one of the most important gifts you could provide. However, is sometimes hard to achieve in certain areas. Learning self-control does not happen through lectures and punishments.

The inability to use self control has plagued all of us at one time or another, whether the lack of self control resides in eating habits, attitude, spending habits, anger, talking too much, abuse of drugs or alcohol, sexual habits or even responsibility; you have been subject to lacking self control at some point in your life. The problem is; when this goes unmanaged or becomes consistent, it can be life threatening for you and for your family.

Would practicing and managing self control end all of your problems? I can’t say that it will. But it sure will make life less complicated. It will provide accessibility to some of your desired luxuries. Your relationships could improve. Your child’s relationships could also improve. What if you never realize the areas for which you lack self control? Then you lose out on the blessings that come from God and from the people whom you interact with. If you never realize the areas for which you lack self control, then you may omit yourself from receiving a raise or promotion, or even an opportunity to help your own child.

Imagine your child going to school and receiving a negative report almost daily. Each time the Teacher speaks to you about it, you take away the video games as punishment but other privileges remain available; such as watching television or playing outdoors. When the child goes to school the next day and continues to rebel against the rules or disrespects the consequence, you can’t seem to understand why your child is having these problems. Children with poor self control and planning abilities are more likely to have aggressive behavior problems. As your child grows, he then develops a rebellion against following the rules of society. This can land your child in a terrible place when he becomes an adult.

Can you resist distraction? Can you handle your own emotions? Can you delay gratifications and plan ahead? Teaching children to have self control begins with you. As you acknowledge that you need it and work at developing and strengthening areas for which you are weak, your child will also develop. Children learn by what they are continually exposed to. It won’t happen through one teachable moment or situation, but through discovery and repetition.

Here are some steps to assist you with helping your child to develop self control;

  1. Help your child to recognize his impulse by breaking down and explaining the process before he makes a bad choice.
  2. Help your child develop specific strategies on what he could do instead of the poor choice he made. Teach your child how to think before he acts and to learn from his failures.
  3. Create an environment that will allow your child to learn and follow a consistent schedule.
  4. Help your child to develop his attention skills and expand his memory.
  5. Play games that would help your child to practice self control.
  6. Unite your child with an organized sports team or activities that will assist in developing self control.
  7. Use a counting and timeout technique.
  8. Outline the boundaries you want your child to follow; such as using gray tape when you don’t want your child to cross a specific area.
  9. Don’t lecture . Give your child a chance to try again. It’s not the end of the world. Give him grace.
  10. Be consistent. Stick to your guns and Show lots of love.
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