How to encourage self-control in children

Children are not born with developed self-control (although it would be great if they were). Learning self-control takes time, it is not all willpower, but you have to learn strategies to achieve it. It is the duty of parents to ensure that children learn these self-control techniques because in this way they will be able to be more successful in future life, in all aspects. Read on to help your kids build self-control.

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Create opportunities for them to take initiative

Creating opportunities for them to take initiative is very important so that they can decide whether to exercise self-control or give in to temptation. A great opportunity to do this is when children understand the value of money to have it as a strategy. You can suggest to your children that they save a certain amount of money so that they have more savings. Immediate feedback always sparks motivation, so you can plot your savings on a chart or in a notebook to see how they improve every time you put money in your piggy bank.

Have a stress-free environment

It is very important to keep the environment stress-free as much as possible. Self-control comes from the frontal cortex of the brain, which provides the brakes on impulsive and instinctive behaviors that are driven from the back of the brain. Stress affects the frontal cortex and deactivates ‘the mental brakes’. This is why, when children are tired from excessive activities or are upset or anxious, they are more likely to have a tantrum or feel discomfort. The more stressed a child feels, the less self-control they will have.

If you know that you are going to encounter situations that could test your potential for self-control, help them -your children- to make a plan while you’re calm. For example, if you’re shopping at a store, and you anticipate a tantrum, it’s a good idea to talk to your kids before you leave, you can say something like: ‘It’s possible that Today in the store you see things that you like, but we are not going to buy toys or sweets today. If you see something you like, you can put it on your wish list and we can talk about it to start saving for it.’

Promote child self-control

So your children will be able to commit to making a better decision when they are calm and they will also discover if they really they want to have that toy or not.

It doesn’t always work out

Children always want to experiment with their independence, their thinking and Will. This is necessary to take into account because they always push the limits. Don’t worry if you ever feel that things don’t turn out the way you expected. Keep in mind that the brain changes with repeated exposure to experiences, so children need to have situations where they can practice self-control, so they can strengthen it.

Reflect for the future

At any time you can slow down enough to engage them in thinking about the future, so you’ll be strengthening the part of the brain where impulsive behavior is trained. It’s a good idea to encourage your children to think about the different possible outcomes for the options in front of them. For example: ‘I know you don’t feel like studying, but you have an exam in two days. What will happen after the exam if you don’t study now?’.

Another option is to help your child – he must be a little older to understand this – start thinking about his ‘future self’. This means that there is a version of each of us depending on the decision we make now. In this sense, you can ask your child questions like: ‘What would your future be depending on this decision now?’.