Teaching our Children Self-Discipline

Someday our children will be self-sufficient and independent adults, which is why we need to teach them to become self-disciplined now.

Most experts agree that in terms of behavior, children need to know their limits. Limit setting gives kids a feeling of safety and security, but as our children reach the early school age years and even the preteen years, it’s important that they learn to rely less and less on parents setting limits, and more and more on themselves setting limits. In other words we want our children to learn to become self-disciplined, explains psychologist Dr. Joanne Briggs. “Your object in setting limits is for the child to develop his or her own limits. So you don’t want to have too many rules and you want to make sure that they’re clear and well understood rules. The best way to do that is to talk about it with your child.”

Children who have developed a strong sense of self-discipline and internal motivation can better deal with peer pressure and life’s up and downs. As parents we can help them achieve this sense of self-discipline and motivation by giving them coping mechanisms for dealing with disappointments says Briggs. “What you’re trying to do when a child is in a bad mood, which is usually because they’re hungry, tired or have had a very bad day, is to give them strategies to deal with that. So what you’re trying to do is to help them learn how to deal with it themselves, rather than dealing with it for them.”

Briggs adds that during the period of six to twelve years of age our role as parents doesn’t diminish. “You’re still deciding when they’re going to eat, go to bed, what kind of activities they’ll do and so on, but you always consult them and listen to what they tell you.”

All in all, our children will someday be self-sufficient and independent. Helping them get there successfully begins with listening and guiding our children, and setting limits that are reasonable and fair.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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