Teaching Your Kids Self-Control
Many studies show that kids who have the ability to delay gratification and control their impulses are more successful in life. In fact, a 1960s Stanford study that followed children for 18 years showed that children who were able to wait fifteen minutes to eat a marshmallow were more persistent, more self-disciplined, and more able to reach their goals.
So, how do you teach your kids these qualities?
- No means no. Be firm and consistent with your children. If you tell them they can't have a candy bar, don't let them have one, even if they throw a tantrum in a public place. They'll never be able to say no to themselves if they don't learn no from you.
- Give them opportunities. Give your children opportunities to delay gratification and start when they're young. An allowance is a great opportunity to do this. Show your child that if they save their allowance, they'll be able to buy something they really want, or buy nice Christmas gifts for family members, as opposed to candy or food here and there. When your teen gets a job and has income, this is a perfect opportunity for you to guide them to make smart decisions and delay the gratification of spending their paycheck as soon as it comes.
- Reward your child. When you child is able to wait or sits patiently, reward him! Remember, rewards don't have to be material. Rewards can be time spent together, like a special game of catch in the backyard or getting to choose which board game the family will play together.
- Model. This is one of the great secrets to good parenting. Your kids pick up so much by watching you and listening to what you say. Show them - through your exercise and diet habits, through the way you spend money - the importance of self-control and passing on a small, good thing to wait for something bigger, and greater. Yes, easier said than done, we know. But, it will be good for you in the long run, too!