Teaching Kids Self-Control

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), September 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Teaching Kids Self-Control


Self-control stops us from demolishing a whole packet of biscuits. It helps us to curb our temper under stress. But did you know that self-control is something that took most of us a long time to learn and develop and dates right back to our pre-school days? Learning to control emotions and behaviour is a skill that can be taught. In fact, a recent study published by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that teaching self-control techniques to pre-school age children who had difficulty reining in their emotions and behaviour significantly reduced suspensions and other disciplinary problems.

ACTIONS SPEAK THE LOUDEST Your actions are perhaps the most powerful teacher in your child's life. It doesn't matter what you say if you don't model self-controlled behaviour yourself.

This means learning to take a deep breath and control your words and actions when you are frustrated It also means demonstrating the ability to delay gratification, or to put off small immediate rewards in exchange for later, larger rewards.

For instance, when you're out shopping with your child and you see an expensive item you'd love to buy, you could demonstrate self-discipline by saying aloud, 'I'd love to buy that, but I'm going to instead choose to save up for our holiday this summer'. TAKE A BREAK Create a quiet place at home where an out-of-control child can calm down. It can be a pillow-filled corner in the living room or a cosy spot in a child's bedroom. By providing an at-home refuge, parents teach kids that there's a way, and a place, to collect themselves when things get out of hand. …

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