Previous columns have discussed how important it is for your son to develop self-discipline. In fact, I have previously noted that the development of self-discipline is so important that we will continue to revisit the subject in this column from time to time. It is self-discipline that will prompt your son to shut up instead of talk back. It is self-discipline that will allow your son to walk away when his peers are urging him to participate in inappropriate behaviors. It is self-discipline that will help your child later in life resist the urge to run up exorbitant credit card bills that he cannot afford. It is self-discipline that will prompt your child to be willing to wait instead of adopting a right now attitude. In fact, I could fill this page and numerous others with the benefits of self-discipline and countless others with the detriment of its lack.
The ability to regulate our thoughts, feelings and actions is really the goal of self-discipline. It is important that parents recognize and accept that if we are going to help our children to become self-disciplined individuals, we must demonstrate it ourselves. In other words, we must “walk the talk.”
We must demonstrate by the life we live that we are self-disciplined individuals and point out to our children models of self-discipline. For example, keep control of yourself. Your actions will never be more evident than when your children take on the same habits. Demonstrate self discipline by doing what you know is the right thing to do. Fight the urge to do things impulsively. Keep control of your finances and of your home. Don’t lose control when you are angry. Never forget that your son is watching you and will mimic your behaviors, especially when it comes to behaving in a self-disciplined manner. The things that you do (or don’t do) will demonstrate to your children self-discipline (or the lack thereof).
As a parent, it is your responsibility to make your child aware of your expectation that he will demonstrate self-discipline. When you observe someone demonstrating a clear lack of self control, point this out to your son. Talk with him about what happened and why it showed a lack of self-discipline. Explain to him that with self-discipline, that person wouldn’t have behaved in the manner in which he did.
When you see someone who demonstrates good self-control in a bad situation, point this out to your son also. Talk to him about why the person handled the situation so well. When he realizes the difference between being self discipline and lacking it, he will want to become self-disciplined.
Parents: Know that self-discipline is not something that can be taught. It emerges through social and environmental interactions. This is why it is so important that we parents must be conscious of our interactions at all times. Yes, parents are also human, but we must be humans who are self-disciplined in order to set proper examples for our children.