Self-control is a complex skill that is built over time; examples of expected behavior are waiting, thinking ahead about the consequences of their action, thinking how their behavior impacts others, managing big feelings, maintaining personal space and setting goals.
Sometimes children have underlying challenges such as ADHD or sensory processing that make it hard for them to control their bodies, their impulses and their emotions.
A landmark study that lasted more than 30 years found that the level of self-control children have as five-year olds, is one of the greatest predictors of their health, wealth and success as adults. This research is similar to the famous marshmallow study. Fun to watch!
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” – Vince Lombardi Jr.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you’re waiting.” –Joyce Meyer
“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.” – Saddi
In Mission:CONTROL!, Joseph and his alter ego, Robojo, both assume the power pose described in this short video, after defeating The Green Hypnozoids. That posture shows Joseph is feeling powerful, having used will power to overcome the “something” that was just too much for him when it was time to turn off the TV.
If your child interrupts, has a hard time taking turns, gets frustrated easily, gives up easily, misreads social cues, grabs from others, has a hard time waiting, does not like to hear “no”, here are some tips to try with your child:
Mindfulness activities have been shown to help children who have difficulty with self-control.
Help your child imagine their future self and choices that must be made to make that vision happen.
Doing chores is a way that helps your child learn to do a non-preferred activity before a preferred one.
Teach your child to do something else while waiting for a desired activity or item.
Teach about bodily sensations that signal it’s time to pause and think before acting.
Play games such as Red Light, Green Light.
Preview expectations such as what will happen at grandma’s dinner or what to do while waiting at the doctor’s office.
Teach language that shows self-control such as “I can wait my turn.” Or “I can try again.”
Provide a safe space for your child to take a break.
Praise your child’s efforts such as “I noticed you played with your stuffie while you waited for your turn. Did that make it easier for you to wait?”
Steps to take
Small step: Try the power pose yourself when you need a boost of testosterone in a stressful situation. Notice any bodily sensations/feelings; consider sharing your experience with someone.
Advanced step: To build self-control, choose an activity to practice with your child from the tips above. Try to be consistent in practicing it.
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