How Do We Teach Our Kids Self-Control?
The benefits of self-discipline, while timeless in nature, have fallen out of favor in today’s ultra-busy, ultra-competitive environment. In addition, the expectation of instant gratification has pushed the virtue of self-control to the back burner. Discipline of self isn’t on display in the public’s eye as it once was. Television reality programs show people behaving badly with little self-control of their emotions, actions, or words. At sporting events, athletes throw loud and obnoxious temper tantrums when a call or game doesn’t go their way. In fact, the worse the reality TV stars and sports figures act, the better for ratings.
Maintaining self-control is an important component of conflict resolution. Exercising self-control in the midst of extreme provocation is essential to resolving conflict in a way that’s fruitful for all parties involved. It’s no mistake that self-control, or the more old-fashioned word longsuffering, is included in the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
We must remind our kids that they are masters of themselves. It seems obvious, but children do need to be told that they can control their reactions to events, people, circumstances, etc. They are not a leaf to be blown about in the wind—they have the ability to exercise control. It does take practice and perseverance to strengthen our self-control muscle. Here are some ways parents can guide their children’s development of self-control.
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