Self-control is an important skill for all children to learn and develop. It refers to having power and control over one’s own actions and impulses. Children who do not make conscious choices about their own behavior, but instead rely on other children, parents, teachers, or adults to make choices for them, do not learn self-control. This may lead to children not taking responsibility for the consequences of their behavior. When children are taught self-control methods at an early age, they will feel better about themselves and the choices that they make.
Here is a quote from an article from the NPR website, For Kids, Self-Control Factors Into Future Success:
“Self-control keeps us from eating a whole bag of chips or from running up the credit card. A new study says that self-control makes the difference between getting a good job or going to jail – and we learn it in preschool.”
“Children who had the greatest self-control in primary school and preschool ages were most likely to have fewer health problems when they reached their 30s,” says Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychology at Duke University and King’s College London.”
Helpful tips for teaching self-control using the TURNING STONEchoice Process:
STOP and breathe (count to ten or take a time out from the situation)
Think and listen to what you are feeling about the situation
Observe what just happened and all the choices that are in front of you
Plan and take action on what positive choices can be made
In order for children to gain control of their behavior when they are experiencing strong feelings, they must know how to identify those feelings. It is never too early to talk to children about emotions and to help them see the connection between feelings and behavior. Linking emotions and actions together demonstrates how our feelings can affect the choices we make. It is a process that can lead to improvement in all children’s self-control.
Here are some sentence tools that teach children problem-solving steps. These steps assist children in understanding their emotions:
THINK about what happened
THINK of how your body feels
RECOGNIZE the feeling
Say, “I Feel____”
Another important aspect of these tools is that it builds communication between you and your child. You as a trusted adult in your child’s life can show by example. Children can learn to understand how they feel and how their feelings affect their choices. Self-control enables children to identify their choices when they are in negative situations. This is an important step to begin to learn independent positive decision-making skills.
“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
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