HomeHealth & BehaviorBehavior & Discipline

Teaching older kids self-control

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By GreatSchools Staff

Model self-control

This can demand real commitment on a parent’s part. But if children see the adults in their lives exhibiting self-control, they’re more likely to do it themselves.

When you find yourself in a frustrating situation, take the opportunity to come up with a solution to the problem. If you get a parking ticket, count to 10 until the impulse to lose your temper passes. Can’t find your wallet and now you’re late taking the kids to school and going to work? Take a breath and ask out loud where you left it last. When you realize it’s in your other purse, you’re not only modeling problem-solving — you’re also staying in control! A great life lesson for your children to witness.

Take a break

Encourage children to take a break when they seem out-of-control. If they’re building into a rage over challenging homework or chores, suggest they step away from the task until they’ve had time to cool down. If they’re old enough, some kids do best by taking a walk around the block. Others benefit from having a snack or a few minutes of a pleasurable distraction, like shooting hoops or reading a favorite book. Children this age are also old enough to employ simple relaxation techniques like sitting calmly, closing their eyes, and breathing deeply.

Reinforce the positive

When you see your children demonstrating self-control — be it turning down loud music when you ask or practicing an instrument even though they’re missing a favorite TV show — let them know. Tell them you respect and appreciate their efforts. This kind of positive reinforcement will help them think of themselves as people who can successfully control their behavior: “I know you wanted to get together with your friends. You should be really proud you finished practicing and figured out a way to see them tomorrow.”

Comments from readers

"I loved this article it actually gives you some great examples of how these techniques are effective. Very informative! "