I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self– Aristotle
An important strength of character is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.
Children who have better self-control show decreased dropout rates, school and classroom behavior issues, drug use, mental health problems, and criminal behavior.
Self – control and self-regulation is a strength of that can be taught to children. It is teaching children what is best in the long run despite short term temptations. Self-control powerfully predicts academic and professional achievement, physical and emotional well-being, positive social relationships, and financial security.
How do we encourage self-control in children?
Any character strength can be taught to children by modeling it. Parents can begin by practicing self-control strategies themselves and the children will certainly follow those.
Parents can resolve to accomplish a goal of personal significance, then talk about the problems and the plans to overcome them.
Discuss with children strategies that you have found, that work especially well in practicing self-control.
Encourage children to get to work right away, rather than procrastinating.
Instead of getting distracted while working, teach them to stay focused.
Planning will help children understand how to be prepared for what needs to be done.
Teach children to think before doing anything that they would later regret.
Praise children for waiting patiently. Notice when they plan: “Great job getting all your stuff organized!”
Appreciate ingenuity in navigating self-control dilemmas: “Keeping your cell phone in a different room is such a clever idea!”
Establish family rules, like no cell phones at mealtimes. Create quiet, distraction-free areas for study and work. Keep fruit on the kitchen counter and hide junk food on a high shelf.
Practice self-regulation in emotional moments example controlling your anger or restraining yourself in an impulsively moment and children will learn to do the same.
Delay gratification. When children ask for something do not always give it immediately, instead ask them to work hard to earn it or wait for a time when it is right for them to receive it.
The most important scientific discovery about self-control is that it can be taught —Walter Mischel