How to Teach Kids Self Discipline

Teach Kids Self Discipline


Games can be used for teaching self discipline. Games like Simon Says and Freeze Tag are good examples because kids have to learn not to do something, thereby practicing self control.

Activities or games that have step-by-step instructions with the result coming at the end, such as cooking or putting puzzles together teach children to delay gratification.

Martial arts, dancing and art lessons are excellent ways of teaching self discipline as kids learn each movement or art instruction and must retain it in their memories.

Self Talk

Encourage kids to talk to themselves as they play with others. They learn to guide themselves as they talk to themselves or their playmates. Help them to be aware of the voice in their head that sometimes gives instructions, such as, "Don't hit your sister." When your child does something wrong, ask him if he heard that voice inside telling him not to do that. Asking questions creates awareness.

Teach Them to Distract Themselves

Try this experiment. Give your child one cookie but tell them they can have two. Place the second cookie where they can see it but not reach it. Notice how quickly the child asks for the 2nd cookie.

Conversely, give your child one cookie but tell them they can have two. Place the second cookie out of sight. Notice if it takes longer for the child to ask for the 2nd cookie.

Internal distraction skills are important to practice. Children can be taught to distract themselves by mother distracting them. When a child wants something, sing them a song, give them a slinky or other toy, ask them to think of something fun.

The key to teaching distraction is: never tell them NOT to think of the thing they want. Humans have strange minds - if told NOT to think of something, we will always think of that thing.

Children are not born with the tools they need to begin practicing self discipline. It is virtually impossible for a child under 4 to delay gratification on their own. By age 5, most children are able to understand that thinking about something makes it harder to wait for it; so they begin to learn to distract themselves. Self discipline develops rapidly from 6 to 12. By sixth grade, children generally are usually ready to use more advanced techniques to delay gratification.

You might also enjoy . . .