Parent Magazine St. Johns October 2019 - Page 18

Teaching Kids Self-Control By Sarah Lyons A s our children grow, they will be faced with many difficult choices. Each choice they make will determine their success in school, friendships, and their future. Every parent’s goal is to raise kids who make smart decisions. So how do we begin to teach them to make good choices in the moment? The answer is by teaching them self-control. Self-control is defined as the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations. Research shows that it is worth the effort to teach our kids self-control beginning at an early age. “Kids who displayed greater amounts of self-control at age four went on to earn better grades, were more popular with peers and teachers, were less likely to report problems with drug use, and earned higher salaries as adults” (www.thrivingfamily.com). On the other hand, studies show that “Kids with poor self-control are more likely to have aggressive behavior problems ... and are also more likely to experience anxiety and depression” (www.parentingscience.com). Now that we have 18 | S T. J O H N S parent M A G A Z I N E established the importance of self-control, how do you go about teaching it? Encourage activities that teach self-control Activities like sports, music lessons, or clubs like Boy Scouts teach kids self-control. Children may not always want to practice, but spending the time to work on their skills will help them become more skilled. Parents can also encourage kids to play games that teach self- control such as Red Light-Green Light and Freeze Tag. Having children spending time in solitary activities like puzzles helps them work toward an achievable goal on their own. Give kids responsibilities Kids who have regular chores they are responsible for are more likely to learn self-control. Young kids often need reminders to help them be successful, but older children can be trusted to get them done by a certain time each week without frequent reminders. When