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What is the key to learning self-discipline?

Although self-discipline is one of the six most important life skills that we should be teaching children, it’s often overlooked. There are many reasons why kids need to learn self-discipline. It is a great skill that will greatly help them throughout their lives. Teaching self-discipline should be an ongoing process throughout a child’s life, and there are several different ways in which parents can promote self-discipline skills.  

Why do some people have discipline and some don't? First think of some successful people and try to see what is that they do that makes them successful and then look at the other end of the spectrum and try to determine what these people may be lacking.

Most successful people are very disciplined to their schedule, their habits and keep a structured daily routine. They are not procrastinators and they get things done. 

Now think of what you usually will see from un-disciplined people. They usually lack all of these qualities so there are some keys to start to learn self-discipline.

So how did the people with self-discipline get to be this way? Were they born that way? Were they raised differently? Do they just naturally do things the right way? What is it?

Well I believe there are several factors that help your children to become more self-disciplined. 


1. HABITS - Your habits are a huge key. Having healthy powerful habits can make a big difference in how children behave and do things. Habits are formed from repetition and eventually they become second nature. Now there are good habits and bad habits. Help your child to build good habits and make sure they stick to them. It's not easy changing behavior and activities that have already been developed but they can be changed. As a parent you have to stick to your guns and follow through on what you say and do. As soon as you give in to them you are developing another habit and I'm sure you can guess what will continue happening if you do this. Being a parent is not easy but it can be easier.

2. STRUCTURE - Most people need structure to stay on track and to get things done. Establish clear household rules and stick to the consequences when rules are broken. This teaches kids what to expect and they will be better equipped to make healthy choices. Create a similar schedule every day. Kids need a morning routine that includes when to eat breakfast, comb their hair, brush their teeth, and get dressed. Create an after-school routine that teaches them how to divide their time between chores, homework, and fun activities. Also, it’s important to have a bedtime routine that teaches the importance of settling down and getting plenty of rest.

3. PROVIDE EDUCATION - Kids need to know how to make healthy choices for themselves. When it comes to helping kids learn how to make healthy choices, an authoritative approach can be one of the best types of discipline because it helps kids understand reasons for the rules.

Instead of simply saying to a child, “Do your homework right when you get home from school,” explain the underlying reason for the rule. Say, “It’s a good choice to do your homework first and then have free time later, as a reward for getting your work done.” This helps them to understand why it is a good idea rather than thinking, “I have to do my homework before dinner because that’s what Mom said I have to do.

Role playing can be an excellent way to educate kids on self-discipline. Identify specific problems that kids are likely to face and discuss different ways to deal with those problems. With a younger child, role play how to respond if another child takes his toy, calls him a name or pushes him. With an older child, role play how to resist peer pressure or what to do in unsafe situations. Role playing can help kids feel better prepared and it can prevent them from responding impulsively.

4. MODEL SELF-DISCIPLINE - Kids learn the most by watching what you do. If they see you procrastinating or choosing to watch TV instead of doing the dishes, they’ll pick up on your habits. Model appropriate behavior by showing kids how to stay on task, manage their anger, and make healthy choices.

5. CONSEQUENCES - Sometimes kids need to face natural consequences. A child who constantly forgets his homework at home each morning, won’t learn to pack his belongings each day if his mother delivers his homework to the school each time he forgets. Instead, he may need to face the consequence from his teacher before he learns.

Sometimes kids need logical consequences. A child who plays too rough with his mother’s computer may need to lose the privilege of playing games on it. Or a child who has trouble getting up in the morning may need an earlier bedtime that night.

When parents are focusing on self-discipline, it’s important to avoid power struggles. Don’t try to force kids to do something because it won’t teach self-discipline. Instead, make it clear what the negative consequences will be and give them the choice. They need to learn how to make healthy decisions for themselves by evaluating the consequences.

6. SHAPING THEIR BEHAVIOR - Self-discipline is a process that takes years to hone and refine. Use age-appropriate discipline strategies to shape behavior one step at a time. Instead of expecting a 6-year-old to suddenly be able to do his entire morning routine without any reminders, use a picture chart on the wall that depicts someone combing their hair, brushing their teeth, and getting dressed. You can even take pictures of your child doing these activities and create your own chart.

When necessary, provide reminders to your child to look at the chart until he is able to look at the chart and do each task on his own. Eventually, he’ll need less reminders and won’t require the chart as his self-discipline improves.

7. PRAISE - Give kids lots of positive attention and praise when they show self-discipline. If a child asks for help instead of hitting his brother, say, “You made a really good choice to ask for help.” Sometimes good behavior goes unnoticed, and giving kids praise for making good choices increases the likelihood that they’ll repeat that behavior.

Provide praise when kids do things without requiring reminders. Say, “Great job sitting down to do your homework before I even told you to!” or “I’m so proud that you chose to clean your room today all on your own.” Even saying, “Great job putting your dish in the sink when you were done eating,” can go a long way to encourage a repeat performance.

At the dojo, I hear a lot of parents say "I wish I could get them to do this stuff at home". You can, just reinforce what we're doing at the karate school and follow the ideals and suggestions above and you will start to see your children learn to have self-discipline. 

But remember habits and behaviors are learned over time and it will take effort and discipline on your part to help your children learn these skills.

Thank you for your time in reading my blog, if you would like to find out more about our karate school please go to our website at www.sylvaniafamilykarate.com 

Have a wonderful day,

Sensei Randy Kopke



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