What is Self-Discipline?
Self-discipline — also called self-control — is a trait that comprises many aspects. Self-discipline denotes the ability to control one’s emotions and to think rationally, to think before acting, to persevere, and endure hardships and obstacles in order to carry out a course of action and to delay gratification.
This is the very foundation of being an adult and has a big impact on future happiness. Stanford University did an experiment almost 50 years ago, called the Marshmallow Study. Kids were offered one marshmallow now, or they could have two if they’d wait for one of the experimenters to run an errand.
Years later, the kids who controlled themselves were more positive and self-motivated, going on to better careers and relationships. Building self-discipline is just a matter of working and refining what’s there, don’t tell yourself that you have no self-discipline, or let your child say that. Instead, work on building it together.
- Model the behavior you want to see. If you are anxious and out of control, your child will take their cues from you. Parenting is hard, but if you need to center yourself and practice self-discipline just talking to other parents can help, as can taking tips from the pros. Parents are not paragons, but very human people doing a very hard job.
- Age-appropriate is important. A four-year-old is not on the same developmental as an eight-year-old, and a twelve-year-old and a sixteen-year-old are worlds apart. Age has to decide how appropriate the consequences and rewards of self-control will be.
- Kids need structure and playtime at home, too. Your day doesn’t stop when you leave work, and theirs doesn’t stop when they leave school. After school activities can help provide structure and education if your school doesn’t have extracurricular activities that interest your child, and help break the influence of cliques and classmates.
- Remind kids of the rules in a timely fashion. The younger the child, the more they are going to need reminding. If you’re going to the grocery store with your five-year-old, talk about the rules for going. However, check the nagging — nagging causes kids to listen less.
- Reward tangibly. Are you telling them that school is their job? Well, jobs have rules. You show up on time, complete your work in a way that justifies your pay, and then you collect your pay.
- When you see something, say something. Do not let aggressive behavior or acting out slide, but provide consistent discipline, including a discussion about the behavior and why it is not acceptable.
Self—discipline leads to self-confidence. On ‘Adventure Time Theater’ Jake the Dog said very wisely, “Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” Having the self-discipline to learn something, even if you’re not very good when you start at it, can lead to self- confidence as skill increases. That goes for everything you learn in life from walking, to math, to cooking, to driving, and even to parenting.