I was talking to our son’s teacher the other day, and she said that the whole class feels this need for instant gratification. I see it constantly out in the world, as I was a teacher, too.
And guess what? I also see it at home.
The other day, one of my sons was struggling.
He wanted to hurry through the task we were doing to get to the reward on the other side. It was a battle for self-control if ever I’ve seen one. In fact, his struggle to maintain composure and learn self-control got me thinking about how it’s something that we don’t talk about a lot.
In our society, instant gratification is the way of things, and oftentimes even that seems too slow! If we could have what we want yesterday, that would be better.
So, how do you teach your child self-control? It may not be as hard as you think.
How to Teach Self-Control and Stop the Need for Instant Gratification
1. Slow Down
Admittedly, slowing down and thinking things through is tough even for adults.
However, when it comes to self-control, there has to be a time when thoughts can be processed. If you never stop or slow down enough to think before making a decision, you often end up with rash decisions that aren’t always healthy for you.
So, teach your kids to stop and take a deep breath before reacting. You can even practice it with them to model the behavior! In our house, we take a deep breath in for five seconds and blow it out slowly for a count of seven seconds. It’s hard to be out of control when you breath like that!
2. Consider Everything
Now that your kids have slowed down before reacting and taken a couple deep breaths, teach them to consider everything. Have them think about everything from the problem at hand, to what the possible outcomes could be.
When you slow down enough to think about things, the not so good outcomes also have a way of popping to mind instead of just the instant gratification/reactionary ones.
Teach them to try and look at the problem from every angle and assess the impact their decision will have on everyone around them – not just themselves.
3. Proceed with Caution
After they’ve slowed down, taken some deep breaths, and considered all of their options, it’s time to proceed with caution. That means that the action must also be slowed down and well thought out as well.
Sometimes the path they choose will be a good one and other times they’ll make mistakes.
4. Model Self-Control
Perhaps the best way to teach your kids about self-control is to model it for them. That means things like not honking or yelling at the car in front of you on the ride home from picking them up at school.
Kids learn by example, so the more self-control you display, the more opportunities they’ll have to see how it’s done. Don’t worry about being perfect – just don’t give up.
Keep in mind that self-control isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes a lot of practice. In fact, even adults need practice with it at times.
That means that it has to be okay if your kids make mistakes. Without mistakes, we’d never learn a better way or that things could be different. They need to know that they always have you in their corner trying to help them get through things that didn’t go to plan.
More Parenting Advice
Related: How To Love Being a Mom
Leave a comment: Do you have any more tips for parents, to practice more self control?