Self-Control: Should Children Master It?


“Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.”
― Benjamin Franklin

Self-control is the capacity to manage and change your responses in order to avoid negative behaviors, promote positive ones, and achieve long-term goals. Self-control has been found to be beneficial to one’s health and well-being in studies.

What distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is this ability to control one’s impulses, emotions, and actions in order to attain long-term goals. Self-control is largely anchored in the prefrontal cortex, which is much bigger in humans than in other mammals and is responsible for planning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Instead of reacting to every impulse as it occurs, the prefrontal cortex’s complexity of nerve connections allows people to plan, assess alternative behaviors, and hopefully avoid doing things they’ll later regret.

Self-control is referred to by a variety of names, including discipline, drive, tenacity, willpower, and fortitude.

Self-control is generally defined by psychologists as:

-The capacity to regulate one’s conduct in order to avoid temptation and achieve one’s objectives.

-The capacity to resist unpleasant actions or desires by delaying satisfaction.

Self control is a difficult habit to grow

Impulse Control

What impulse control means:

The capacity to pause and consider one’s actions before acting. It allows us to consider the repercussions of our actions before taking action.

Without impulse control, children are more likely to:

Interrupt frequently, talk excessively, or speak out of turn

Start working on schoolwork just when it’s almost time to go to bed.

Complete assignments as quickly as possible.

One day you’ll follow the rules, the next you won’t.

The benefits of impluse control:

It helps our children to see the long-term implications of their behavior.

Emotions Control

What Emotions Control means:

The capacity to control one’s emotions. Emotions Control enables us to keep going even when things are distressing or unexpected.

Without Emotions Control, children are more likely to:

If you’re easily frustrated, you’ll quit up.

Not able to deal with criticism well

Have trouble relaxing enough to get things done? (like homework)

When someone irritates or frustrates them, they have a hard time holding their cool.

The benefits of Emotions Control:

Emotions Control encourages our children to keep going even when they are presented with distressing or unexpected situations.

Movement Control

What Movement Control means:

The ability to direct the movement of our bodies. Movement Control allows us to control what we do physically in a healthy manner.

Without Movement Control, children are more likely to:

Excessively energetic or agitated

Have a hard time sitting still.

They have a hard time keeping in line while waiting for their turn.

With their motions, they disrupt games and discussions.

The benefits of Movement Control:

Movement Control enables our children to control their bodily activities and emotions in a healthy manner.

Related: 7 Effective Willpower Boosting Techniques

Teaching Self-Control to Children

There are a few factors to bear in mind while teaching and reinforcing the virtue of self-control:

Consistency: Our children’s self-regulation has a better chance of developing if they are raised in a consistent atmosphere with clear expectations and standards. Consistency is required for self-control to be meaningful.

Praise: Children with supportive parents or caregivers are more likely to succeed in mastering self-control. Because their brain’s sensitivity is impaired by stress, lecturing our children about their lack of control – when they are plainly out of control – is not the most effective technique. Words of praise and encouragement promote positive conduct, so urge them to do better.

Reward: When our children succeed in postponing pleasure, we should reward them!

Positive Self-Talk: Instilling good self-talk in our children is an important part of helping them maintain balance and self-control in their life. Self-control is defined as the ability to successfully talk oneself through a task while attempting to avoid distractions.

A person’s degree of self-control fluctuates throughout the day, implying that self-control is more like a variable resource along the lines of physical energy than a cerebral ability like intellect. Self-control isn’t about deprivation, and it isn’t about punishment either. But, in order to keep damaging behaviors in control, it’s frequently a matter of reframing what’s pleasant to you. It’s about gaining control over your own behavior and learning to ignore strong desires.

Related: How to Improve Your Self-Control


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