5 Ways to Teach Children about Self-Discipline

In essence, self-discipline is the ability to deny impulse and say “no” when you want to say “yes”. Studies show that self-discipline, more so than intelligence, predicts the success of children later in life. Self-control positively enhances academic performance but also helps curtail certain undesirable habits. Thankfully self-discipline isn't an inherent character trait, but can be taught and practiced. Childhood is the ideal time to teach these skills, as it is more likely to become habit. Here are six ways to teach your kids about self-discipline:
Discuss the Issue 

It’s important for your child to understand what self-discipline is and how it plays a role in their lives. Watch a documentary together on the science behind self-discipline or read some articles online about it. Whenever your child accomplishes something, praise them for their “self-discipline” to achieve that task. This will communicate that their efforts were a result of hard work and encourage them to continue to practice self-discipline.

Be a Role Model

Sometimes, children don’t know how to implement positive behavior, merely telling them to do something isn’t enough. No amount of training, suggestion, or pressure can supersede the example you set. Children learn most of their behaviors by observing how their parents react to situations. Demonstrating how to exercise self-discipline will prevent any confusing hypocrisy and also provide an example to follow, in addition to instruction.  

Daily Practice

As with any skill, daily practice is important.  Learning the concept of self-discipline isn’t as effective as putting it into exercise on a regular basis.  Find an obligation that occurs on a daily basis and use it to train your child’s self-discipline. Assign age-appropriate chores, and use bed or homework time as opportunities for exercise.
 It’s extremely important that you allow your child to make the decision. Telling your kids what to do will result in them reacting to external pressure as opposed to exercising their ability to self-direct. Help them to understand the consequences of their decisions by talking about possible future outcomes and ways to go about making a decision; but ultimately, let them have the choice. If you’re in control, they are not learning about self-control. If they make a good decision reward them with privileges; if they make a bad one, you should act with the appropriate response. 

Channel Your Child’s Preference to Teach Discipline

Discipline isn’t all about tedious responsibilities; instead, it can help your children obtain the very things that they want and enjoy. Self-discipline will help them achieve goals they set for themselves, whether it is material, social, or the ability to perform a skill they admire. Have your children identify something they’re crazy about and encourage them to dedicate themselves to it in a constructive way.  If they enjoy the arts, encourage them to diligently draw frequently and study relevant literature. If your child expresses interest in music, encourage them to practice an instrument. They’re more likely to engage and be receptive to learning when it’s something that they enjoy. 

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise has been known to help children develop self-discipline. The act of physical fitness itself improves the performance of your child’s prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for self-modulation.  The sooner your child starts a fitness regime, the more likely it is he or she will stick with it later in life. There are many great sports such as swimming, t-ball or gymnastics that can be practiced by younger children. Enroll your child into classes or a team he or she is interested in, to further the importance of self-discipline. 
About the Author :
Brett Callan is an instructor at murraycallanswimschools.com, where their Encinitas swim lessons offer customized support for children throughout San Diego. He loves to enjoy the San Diego weather whenever he can, whether from the beach or at a pool.


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  1. Teaching Kids self discipline is really a difficult task. But if they learn it at a very tender age then it can surely help them in their future. Thanks Brett for sharing such a nice post . :)

  2. Thanks to Brett for sharing such an informative Post . Thanks a lot to
    Forthefirsttimer.com for publishing such awesome posts . Even i am
    interested to write for you . :)

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