Advertising
Advertising

How to Develop Kids’ Self Control Without Scolding Them

How to Develop Kids’ Self Control Without Scolding Them

If you were sitting in a room with a 5 layer chocolate cake and told not to touch it, could you resist the temptation? Would you sniff it? Maybe even skim some of the icing off with your finger? According to Laura Markham Ph.D. of Psychology Today[1], “Only 30% of 4 year olds can manage their emotions, anxiety and impulses to resist temptation.” Why should that matter? How you deal with self-control when you are four will determine whether or not the adult you can resist the urge to taste that chocolate cake.

Self-control is also known as self-restraint, or “the ability to regulate one’s thoughts and behavior in the face of temptation and impulses,” according Wikipedia[2]. Self-control mastered in childhood prevents problems arising in adulthood.

Why it’s difficult to learn self-control

In today’s instant-gratification society, anything you need is at the touch of a finger. You switch on the television with a remote. You don’t have to wait for your favorite program, you stream it. You buy passes to by-pass the long lines at amusement parks. Microwaves heat your food up instantly, and when your out and hungry, you grab some fast food. Fast, convenient and no waiting, but at what cost?

Advertising

Kids enter a world where waiting is minimal and tempers in these volatile times run high. People scream at each other on television, from their cars- and even in public. They rage at their governments by destroying other people’s property. Kids grasp concepts by example and society provides a poor one. However, scolding your child for their lack of self-control will do no one any favors, as this necessary soft skill needs to be learned.

Why learning self-control is essential for kids

Kids need to start learning self-control when they are young. The prefrontal cortex of the brain, the part used to regulate self-control[3], develops slowly in children and they, in turn, have the ability to take in this soft skill in stages in accordance to their growth.

A toddler, though unable to understand complex issues to them like waiting for cookies to finish baking in an oven, can be distracted, setting a foundation for building self-distraction as a coping mechanism for self-control. However, a five year old can sit in a time out to calm down and know why they are in that time out, and a teen can be taught to think twice about a reaction if the consequences mean losing that Friday night at a friend’s house.[4]

Advertising

How to help your kids learn self-control

1. Be a Good Role Model

You are the best model for your child to learn self-control. They will take their cues from how you act and react to situations. Do you lose your temper in the car and shout at other drivers? Keep calm and your child will learn to do the same.

2. Develop Trust Bonds

In order for kids to learn self-control, they need to know you have their back. If they already know they have dinner at home at 6, they will feel less compelled to grab that candy at 5:30. They trust you will feed them at 6, and having that sense of trust is essential in developing self-control. Provide a safe, warm, loving environment in which they can learn and thrive.

3. Teach Through Games

Younger kids learn self-control techniques best through play[5]. Games like Red-Light Green-Light or musical chairs teach them that have to control themselves. They have to stop themselves from grabbing that chair while the music is still going, or stop and freeze when they hear that “red-light” command. They are playing yet learning vital impulse control at the same time.

Advertising

4. Use Delayed Gratification

Waiting is essential for self-control. Bake with your kids. With a timer to set- they have anticipation. The cake/cookies/brownies will be done by X amount of time. This helps them practice delayed gratification. You can use this too by not buying them something they badly want and tell them they must wait for their birthday or Christmas.

5. Tell Them About Consequences for Actions

Teaching kids they have consequences for their actions is essential in self-control. Instead of scolding them for their bad behavior, tell them you are taking away their electronics/favorite toy/ for X amount of time because of the behavior. Yelling does no one favors and only escalates the situation, but losing television privileges for a week will make them think twice next time.

6. Use Meditation

Recently, some schools have adopted the practice of using meditation to help with lack of behavior issues, instead of suspension and detention and their successes are astounding[6]. Much like a time-out, but focused, meditation helps children to master self control, gain inner calmness, and alleviate anxiety. Regular meditation also teaches the practitioner not to react impulsively to situations.

Advertising

You can start your kids mediating- a minute a day to begin with. There are audios available for mindful meditation- guided with a voice to help kids think about their life, or just use soft music or silence. Have them focus on their breath- breathing in and out. And set a timer. Sometimes using an object to direct their focus on helps as well, like a candle or a rock.

Save your larynx, and stop yelling at the kids for their lack of self-control. Instead teach them this essential soft skill, by incorporating lessons of impulse control, delayed gratification, consequences into your daily life. Be a good role model and develop a trust bond and begin meditating. It will make your life easier and less stressful and help build a stronger foundation for your kids and their future- and maybe even help them resist the temptation to eat that chocolate cake!

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: 8 Steps to Help Your Child Develop Self Control
[2] Wikipedia: Self Control
[3] Standford.edu: Self Control and The Developing Brain
[4] KidsHealth.org : Teaching Your Child Self-Control
[5] Parentingscience.org: Teaching Self Control
[6] Newsweek.com: The Movement of Meditation Replacing Detention in Schools

More by this author

Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

There are 5 stages of love, but sadly most couples stop at stage 3 There Are 5 Stages Of Love, But Sadly Many Couples Stop At Stage 3 40+ Quotes To Read When Everything Appears To Be Going Wrong In Your Life This Innocent Little Comment on a Child’s Drawing Can Kill Their Creativity Why the Less Your Children Have, the More Successful They Will Be in the Future Is Attachment Parenting a Good or Bad Thing for My Children?

Trending in Psychology

1 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 2 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 3 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering 4 How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful 5 How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

Advertising

Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

Advertising

You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

Advertising

To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

Advertising

But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

Read Next