Developing Discipline – 5 Tips for Teaching Kids Self-Discipline

Whether you’re a strict disciplinarian or a more laid-back parent, the ultimate goal of disciplining your child should be to teach them self-discipline. Self-discipline – exemplified by turning off video games to do homework and not sneaking extra cookies when mom’s back is turned – is the key to becoming a responsible, contributing adult.

When you teach kids self-discipline, you’re giving yourself peace of mind as they will be able to resist harmful temptations, delay gratification, and withstand the discomfort of hard work to reach their goals. To give your child the groundwork needed to develop this powerful trait, consider the following tips:

  1. Teach Problem-Solving Skills

Kids can quickly become overwhelmed if they don’t understand how to problem solve. However, problem-solving can often be as simple as talking out the issue to come up with a solution that works for everyone. For example, if your child is having trouble getting homework done, they may need extra help in the form of an expert tutor. Alternatively, they may simply need fewer distractions at home. Working together to find a viable solution will help your child figure things out independently when you’re not around.

  1. Stick to a Regular Schedule

Keeping to a regular, simple routine helps kids stay on task and on time. For example, a similar morning routine helps kids eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and get dressed efficiently so they are on time for school. An after-school routine allows kids to divide their time between homework, chores, and fun, while a consistent bedtime routine helps kids fall asleep faster. Sticking to these simple and consistent routines will eventually have your kids doing the things they need to do without supervision.

  1. Give Reasons for the Rules

Kids learn better and are more inclined to listen to your words if they understand the reasons behind the rules. Don’t just say, “Because I told you so.” This doesn’t explain anything and robs your child of their sense of agency. Instead, explain why your kids should do what you say in simple terms. Avoid getting into a lengthy lecture as it can bore a child and cause them to stop listening, which defeats the purpose. Once kids understand the reason for the rules, they’re more likely to follow them without hesitation.

  1. Give Consequences for their Actions

Kids need to learn to make good choices on their own, and the only way to make this possible is to give healthy consequences when they make poor decisions. Natural consequences can be the best teachers. For example, if your child doesn’t want to eat dinner, let them feel hungry for the night. Of course, letting a child learn the hard way that bullying will lose them friends is not a good idea. So, there must always be a limit to natural consequences.

It’s also important to avoid getting into a power struggle with your child. Set clear boundaries, and make sure they understand the consequences of their choices. Then, let them make their decisions and go through with the negative consequences if they choose badly.

  1. Reward Good Behavior with Praise

Kids respond positively to praise, so don’t hesitate to give words of encouragement and pride when warranted. If your child cleans their room without being told, make sure they know how proud you are of them. Giving kids plenty of praise when they make good choices will likely result in repeat behavior.

Raising responsible adults is a parent’s ultimate goal. To achieve this goal, you must discipline your kids and help them develop self-discipline. Applying the tips above as you parent your child will ensure they learn self-discipline skills.

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