Teaching Kids Self-Discipline

Reagan Fausett

Self-control can be hard for anyone. Even as adults, though we know the importance of self-control, we sometimes slip up. Personally, my self-control goes out the window when there’s chocolate around. . . but it’s different for everybody. If we have problems with self-control as adults, it’s no wonder kids struggle. So how can we help our kids learn self-control? Here are a few tips to help you start teaching kids self-discipline. 

Remove the Temptation

Obviously removing the temptation won’t always be an option, but as your child is beginning to learn self-control it can help. If you’re wondering how to teach self control to toddlers,  this might be a tactic you can try. Maybe your kid has a hard time staying off their phone or gaming device. Encourage them to put their phone in a different place when they’re doing homework or eating dinner. And if your child needs some extra help with regulating their device, check out Troomi for a kid safe phone that can help you teach your child how to control their phone use on their own.

Practice Self-Control

Practicing self-control can help your child exercise it in future situations. If your child struggles to control themselves moment to moment, try practicing with some games. There are several different games that can help your child practice self-control. Games like “Red Light Green Light” or “Simon Says” help your child practice being patient instead of rushing to win a game like they normally would. These games are also a great way to teach self control to toddlers. While the games might be more suitable for younger children, the same concept can be updated to use with your older kids. If your child really wants a new game or other expensive item, teach them how to use their self-control when it comes to buying little things so they can save money for that bigger item.

Be an Example

You know kids. They learn by example—perhaps more than we want sometimes. . . So be sure to set a good example when it comes to teaching kids self-discipline. If you’re always impulse buying or eating, your kids are going to do the same. When kids see that you’re exercising your self-control, they’ll be more likely to follow your example over your words. You might even try drawing your child’s attention to what you’re doing. Perhaps you want to buy something, but you need to save money. Point out to your kids that you are refraining from buying what you would like because you want to save a few dollars to put toward something better. This helps your kids understand why self-control is good. 

Don’t Force It

Remember that self-control is all about your child learning to do it themselves. If you are constantly managing your child’s impulses for them, they won’t ever learn for themselves. If your child is struggling with controlling themself, help them practice and break things into manageable pieces rather than doing it for them. Of course there are situations in which you need to help your child use their self-control. Maybe your child wants to have ice-cream before dinner, in which case, you would encourage them to wait until they’ve eaten dinner to have dessert. 

Self-control is an essential skill to have. Many of us are still working on developing it, but if you start teaching kids self-discipline young with some of these tips, they’ll be much more prepared for what lies ahead!