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“I am Determined”- why Self-Discipline is a child’s ‘magic’ power .

Self- Discipline is often misinterpreted as something harsh and punitive, when in fact it is one of the most important characteristics we can teach and nurture in our children. Self- Discipline is the ability to persevere with things, to keep ourselves motivated and to control our actions, behaviours and emotions.

For parents, the sooner we teach our children self-discipline the sooner they become self motivated and driven to achieve their goals without the need for us to continually ‘nag’ them to do things.

When children are able to accept responsibility for their own behaviour parents won’t need to use as many negative consequences or controlling rules. Instead parents will be able to support their child and focus on helping them learn new skills and to set appropriate goals for themselves.

Research shows that children who have poor self-discipline are less likely to progress academically, have difficulty setting and achieving goals, are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and also more likely to display aggressive behaviour patterns and use addictive behaviours.

On the other hand children who have highly developed self-discipline are able to persevere and achieve their goals, are able to take responsibility for themselves and their actions, are happier, and able to regulate their emotions and behaviours.

As parents there are many ways you can teach your children self-discipline.

1.Provide structure. It’s important to create routines and structures that children can easily learn and then follow by themselves when they are old enough. When children know exactly what they are supposed to be doing, they will also be less likely to get distracted or derailed by other activities.

2. Minimize temptations and use distractions. Every parent knows how challenging it can be in a supermarket when all the sweets are displayed at the checkout counter. Techniques such as distracting children with conversation or getting them to help you bag the groceries can help minimise the temptations. At home this is easier to control and you can anticipate temptations by keeping them out of sight.

3. Teach problem solving. Perseverance is a key component of self-discipline and children can easily become demotivated to continue when they encounter challenges. Teaching them to solve their own problems helps them to feel confident to tackle more difficult goals.

4. Turn uninteresting chores into fun games. Children are more likely to complete mundane chores or activities when they are motivated to, or can find something interesting or fun in what they are doing. Discovering how to get children interested may require a lot of patience, observation, and flexibility, but by teaching them the techniques they will be able to use this for themselves whenever they are faced with a task that they find boring or tedious.

5. Teach and encourage ‘intrinsic’ motivation. It’s easy as parents to use physical rewards to encourage and motivate our children to persist and complete chores or tasks. However it’s important to teach them that intrinsic rewards are more meaningful and motivating in the long term. Encouraging them to feel proud of themselves for what they have achieved becomes an important, lifelong habit which builds their self-esteem and confidence.

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