No matter how much you try to discipline your child, at the end of the day, the final goal must be to teach your child self-discipline. There is a difference between discipline and self-discipline. According to the Collins dictionary, “Self-discipline” is the ability to control yourself and to make yourself work hard or behave in a particular way without needing anyone else to tell you what to do.”
And that’s what you should aim to do with your child: make them aware of self-discipline. It helps them resist unwanted or unhealthy temptations, makes them aware of their responsibilities, and gives them the ability to think about what’s right and wrong for their actions. From choosing to keep away from mobile phone to study to backing off from taking another piece of the chocolate while everyone’s looking elsewhere, self-discipline is the crucial step toward making kids responsible adults.
It’s important that you give children the skills they need to develop self-discipline. You must also allow them to practice making good choices. Here are three ways to teach your children to learn and practice self-discipline.
- Cultivate Good Behavior
First things first. If you want your child to be self-disciplined, then you must cultivate good behavior and for this, you need to have and set clear intentions and expectations. You must clearly explain to your child what you want from them. Whatever they might be doing and wherever they are, you must spell out in unambiguous terms for your child about your expectations from them. You need to set realistic expectations for them. For example- if your child isn’t good at coloring, don’t put unnecessary pressure on them to get good marks, even if they are trying to give it their best. In order to avoid putting pressure on children with tasks and other things, you must get familiar with your child’s attitude and behavior. If your child is young, write the rules on a whiteboard or blackboard. You can also write the rules and paste in front of the refrigerator. When you are making rules, always involve your child and ask him if it’s okay for him to follow the rules. The child will be hesitant at first but will give in eventually.
- Explain the Reason For The Rules and Give Consequences
When you’re making rules for your child, you must tell him/her why you’re making the rules and how it will benefit them. In order to help them understand the reasons for the rules, you have to be a little authoritative but do not give any leeway that they can exploit.
For example, don’t say “You have to study now because am saying so.” Instead, you must say that “It’s good to study first and go for play later because you can play as much as you want as a reward for completing your studies.
As a general rule, you can also tell the child consequences for not following the rules. Children as such are playful and might forget at times. That doesn’t mean you need to be harsh with them. Remember, unlike adults, children forget a lot and will learn lessons from their behavior. If your child forgets to collect his rainwear and steps out while it’s raining, they will remember that it’s always better to have rainwear while going out. Sometimes, consequences can teach people some of life’s greatest lessons.
Self-discipline is not punishment, it’s learning from life.
- Practice and Praise Good Behavior
Teach what you follow. In order to have your children follow you, you must set an example at home. Get up on time, eat on time, and get ready for work on time. Children emulate their parents and when parents themselves follow good discipline, children will watch and learn. Secondly, you have to praise your child every time they do good.
For example, instead of saying “Good thing you did not fight with the other child when he hit you,” say, “Good thing you did not retaliate. You were awesome.”
Another way you can praise your child is to tell him/her “You did a good thing by keeping your plate in the sink,” or you can even say “Good, you finished your lunch in school.”
While it’s okay to shout at children or spank them once in a while, it’s not the solution to put self-discipline in them. True, these methods can word once or twice but they are ineffective after a while. So, the best strategy is to always talk to them.
If you have more then one child at home, then it’s always better to speak to them individually as each child is different and behaves differently.
You must also take the help of your spouse or other adults in the house to learn how to make children self-disciplined. It’s a long process but will happen for sure. You just need to be calm and patient.