Most children are impulsive by nature. Parents can help to improve that by equipping them with self-control and discipline. This has far-reaching benefits beyond reducing your child’s penchant for throwing tantrums whenever things do not go his or her way.
In fact, studies show that children who are able to take charge of their behaviour and emotions become better listeners with good focus – they enjoy better academic success and are less likely to engage in risky behaviours in adolescence. Ahead, we share five key strategies that will help children develop self-control and discipline.
Communicate often about important behaviours
“What did we learn about sharing our toys?”, “Remember to help mummy clear the dishes from the table”, Talk nicely so that I can understand you”. Nurturing self-control in your little one begins by simply conveying your expectations in a clear manner, and dropping gentle reminders when needed.
Encourage delayed gratification
A great way to teach children self-control is to engage them in tasks that do not offer instant reward. In a world where we can get instant access to almost everything, there’s little wonder why plenty of children suffer from a lack of patience. Thus exposing them to the concept of delayed gratification, and having them practice will prepare them for unwelcome but necessary tasks (such as doing their homework, eating their vegetables, saving money…), and help them build the discipline necessary to see each one through.
Self-control is an ability that develops over time. And it requires plenty of practice and consistency from both the child and the parent. For example, establishing household routines and chores are great opportunities for children to learn self-discipline, but it could backfire if not consistently enforced.
Encourage your child to assume age-appropriate tasks such as tidying up their toys, going to bed without fussing, or even doing their homework without prompting, and give them the responsibility to follow through without being reminded. Of course, don’t skimp out on the praise if you notice your child’s consistent efforts. A little goes a long way!
Regulate your own emotions
As your child’s first and most important role models, how you regulate your emotions too play a part. Be it how you react to their temper meltdown (by losing control and shouting at them to stop, or gently soothing their upset) or the way you behave when stuck in line (showing signs of impatience or calmly waiting for your turn), your child inevitably picks up behavioural cues and signals that teach them how to act accordingly.