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How To Teach Self-Discipline To Children

It's pretty common for parents to think of themselves as disciplining their children. But shouldn't the children at some point be able to learn some self-discipline? And discipline themselves instead? I say, yes. This article is all about how to teach your children self-discipline. 

So, what really is self-discipline? Discipline comes from the word disciple. Disciple means follower of the teacher. So, if a person is self-disciplined, they know who their teacher is and they follow with the teacher would have them do. So, if your role is the parent, then you're the teacher, they're the learner. Self-discipline means to control themselves to be in alignment with what you, the teacher would have them do. 

Years ago, when I'm just a young mother and I had 2 toddlers of my own and that was it. My husband went back to school and I decided that to help my family financially that I needed to work again. But I didn't want to leave my children because they were so young and I wanted that time with them. 

In fact, I was a career woman and I thought really hard to get that time with them. So, we decided to do foster care for treating children. And for years, we brought you the ages 12 to 18 into our home to teach them how to fix their relationships, how to conquer some of their hang-ups, how to deal with their processing differences. And we decided that we would call what we were going to teach them self-government. 

We were going to teach them how to discipline themselves. So, what is self-government? Self-government is being able to determine the cause and effect of any given situation and possessing the knowledge of behaviors so that you can control them. This means that we are going to teach those youth how to examine themselves and decide that whatever they found was okay. And that they could make up a better plan for their future. 

There are 3 V's that we're going to focus on for how to teach your children self-discipline in this article. V's meaning is like the letter V. The first V is vocabulary. Your children need to know the words behind what you're even doing. So often, parents go about the task of parenting without letting their children in on what it is that we're really even doing with this whole process of parenting. 

Well, let's see. What are some of the vocabulary words that they might need to know? They might need to know what self-discipline is or what self-government is that could be important especially if that's one of the goals. They may need to understand the word freedom. Because freedom is at the root of self-government and self-discipline.

When a person knows which direction they ought to be headed and they align themselves with that direction, they find the most freedom possible. They also find confidence. And they're better equipped to handle the problems that are going to be facing them in the future. Vocabulary is the root of all learning. No matter what we learn whether it's what a denominator is what it means to saute or what a tulip is. Those are just words. 

Everything is just words. So, why wouldn't we teach our children some of the most vital lessons they need to know which is how to thrive and survive in this world of family communication. There are going to be parents one day themselves, right? So, don't they need to know what you're doing so that one day they can feel confident knowing what they're doing? A good leader always prepares the people so that they don't have to make the same mistakes that the leader made before. 

They can build upon where the leader was when they taught them. So, if we're good leaders to our children, we need to get them more involved in understanding what we're doing in our parenting, in our communication, and in our teaching with them. One of the big vocabulary words that the family needs to understand is they need to understand the word role. What does the word role mean? It actually has an interesting beginning. 

So, if you look at Webster's 1828 dictionary which happens to be one of my favorite books to study from, I know, I'm a geek. I love the dictionary. Anyway, when you look in Webster 1828 dictionary and you look up the word role, R-O-L-E, it doesn't exist. But the word R-O-L-L does exist. Well, on further inspection, I found out that the word R-O-L-L was the word that leads to R-O-L-E. So, years ago, playwrights would write down the words for every person's part in the play. And then there was a day called a holiday. 

They would take these pieces of parchment that they had written all the lines on. They would roll them up and tie them with a little ribbon or something. And then on holiday, all of the characters would line up like Beatrice and Percussion and whoever else there was. And they would hand them their role of parchment. And their role of parchment was essentially the part that they got assigned for the play. And it also has of course all their lines. 

Well, somewhere between then and now, we ended up making the word R-O-L-E. Which signifies the part that you are supposed to play. The person that you are in connection with all of the other players or the other people in your life. Maybe in your family. Roles are a vital part of our identity personally and for our whole family's joint identity as well. In fact, it's so important that there was a time when I realized here I was talking about parenting all the time but people didn't have a basic understanding of what Roles even were. 

So, I wrote this book called ROLES: The Secret To Family, Business, and Social Success. So, that people could see an illustration of what a family is like when their roles are not in the right place. And what family feels like when their roles are in the right place. That's an important V, vocabulary. The word is Roles. There are many other vocabulary words that you need to teach your children. Teach them what is an attitude problem.

What is attention-seeking? What's the difference between positive attention-seeking and negative attention-seeking? What is teaching and what is a lecture? What's the difference? What does obedience really mean? Did you know that obedience actually means that a person has received the law they know the teaching and then they choose to act upon that teaching? And if a person has not ever learned the law or received teaching, they are not actually disobedient? They might be annoying. yes. But they are not disobedient. 

The seoond V is vision.The family needs to know where they're going to create the type of environment where a child will learn self-discipline. In fact, I call this environment a family government. If you're going to teach your children self-government, it's going to happen within a family government. So, what is this picture of where you're going? This vision of the future. The create a positive and really productive vision for your family, it has to be tangible. It has to be something they can hold on to. Not just the statement that you say. But a picture of something in the future that you want to become. 

In fact, that's what it means to have a vision, is to look ahead to the future and to plan who you will be in the future. In this book PARENTING: A House United, I talk about creating a 20-year vision for your family. Our vision centers on Christmas Eve. And it's full of smells and sounds. And even we talk about the types of conversations that we'll be having as a family. We've created a vivid picture in the future for our family to hold on to and try to achieve daily. 

Are we going to be perfect at first? No. But we have to know where we're going. So, you've got to take the time to help your family establish a plan and a picture for the future and who you're all choosing to be. The third V for teaching the children's self-discipline is voice. The children have to know what they can say. Everyone wants to have a voice in the family. In fact, when you teach your children self-discipline or self-government, that should make it so the family has more to say, not less to say. Maybe that doesn't sound like a welcome thing for some people because maybe they just want everybody to stop talking and to stop making so much noise. 

But when it's a good kind of noise when they're talking to each other about happy things and they're involved in projects together and understanding each other, this is a good voice. Children need to know how to talk to their parents to be the most successful. This will increase their self-discipline more than anything else. So, they need skills. In our family, we teach 4 basic skills for success. 

We teach following instructions, accepting no answers, accepting consequences, and disagreeing appropriately. Look at that skill accepting consequences. That doesn't sound like a very productive or powerful thing because it sounds kind of negative consequence. But no, accepting consequences is incredibly liberating. 

When a person knows how to stay calm and say okay or disagrees with their parents, disagree appropriately with their parents, when a correction is given, that person feels free to be able to be okay with it. If they have the skill they need to follow through with during that moment of correction. Our children need the freedom that comes with knowing what to say to solve their problems. They need a voice. Disagreeing appropriately helps them to get their way. 

Do they know that? We should tell them. Just like we're going to share the vocabulary that they need to understand what we're really doing, let's share the skills they need with them so that they can be successful and happy. And strengthen their bonds and relationships in the family so that there really is a happy place. A place that feeds everybody's souls instead of drains everybody's emotions. I'm going to tell you a story about a black family. 

They had 6 children and they were really dedicated parents. But they had a problem. The problem was that the children and the parent oftentimes do not communicate very effectively. The children didn't know the skills for effective communication, how to get their way, how to be understood. And the parents didn't know either. So, what would happen is they would power struggle with each other. Sometimes mom and dad would yell. 

Sometimes they would raise a heavy hand at the children. The children will constantly be having fear of dad. And running to mom to be saved. So that created division in the husband and wife relationship because they didn't unity in their parenting styles either. Then they learn the 4 basic skills and the 6 teaching styles that I teach to parents as well as how we implement those things in their families. And something transformed. After just a few short weeks of working on these, the children started saying, "I like this. I like our family. 

I actually want to be like dad when I used to be afraid of him." That was huge. After a few months of working on their self-government individually, parents and children, we had a meeting together. And the children expressed how they truly felt their parents were their heroes because they didn't know that their family could overcome this contention problem. 

This fear problem. The children thought they always had to stay a bit emotionally disconnected, especially from dad. That they just had to look tough and say what they wanted them to say. Instead, their relationship grew into something with more dimensions. With a heart dimension. And the children now see their parents as the heroes that they want to become because the parents learned how to conquer their beast with skills. But so the children.

 So, what is one of the key things that parents can do as they're teaching their children these skills so that the children have a voice, the parents can work on their voice too? The parents can choose self-government too. And use scripts instead of emotional reactions. So that everyone can trust each other more. Oftentimes, people think the reason that their child won't learn self-discipline is that their strong-willed. Well, strong-willed children have the very best chance of learning self-discipline than anybody else actually. 

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