10 Effective Tips for Teaching Children Self-Discipline

Teaching Children Self-Discipline

Self-Discipline is the process of controlling one’s impulses, preferences, desires, or emotions. It can help you stay on task at hand or resist temptations to make a bad decision. Thus, self-discipline is a critical skill a child needs to learn.

If you’re a parent, you’ll know that fostering a child’s self-discipline can be one of the most challenging tasks. There are so many tactics that work for some children and not for others, and it’s hard to find what will work best with your kids. 

As a top Montessori Preschool of West Adams Los Angeles, we have been working with parents to answer this question: What can you do to foster your children’s self-discipline? With that in mind, we put together this list of 10 tried and true discipline techniques to help foster your child’s self-discipline.

10 Effective Tips for Teaching Children Self-Discipline

Teaching Children Self-Discipline
Five years old boy not cooperating with his psychotherapist.

1. Provide a Routine

Children need routines to help them get through the day and feel secure. If you can set up a routine with your child and stick to it, they’ll be more focused and less likely to get distracted by other things. For instance, morning is their most difficult time beating the day. If you can have them wake up at the same time every morning, they’ll eventually get used to the routine, and it’ll be less difficult for them at the end of the day.

2. Give Them Choices When You Can

Some kids respond better when they’re given a choice in what they do. Let them pick a task they’d like to do, then let them get started. It will make it easier for them to succeed and give you more control over the situation. For instance, you can say, “You have a choice. You can fold your laundry now or once you finish your homework.”

3. Create Consequences if They don’t Behave Appropriately

We don’t mean punishments, like spanking or other physical measures. These are the worst possible options for discipline. Instead, we’re talking about consequences that teach them a lesson and help them learn from their mistakes. Making your child do an extra chore will work better than yelling at him, but you’re still helping him learn to discipline without physically hurting him.

4. Use the “Time Out” Technique to Teach Them Self-Control

There are a lot of different approaches to time out, but the most common one is to take your child somewhere private and away from the rest of the family. It serves a dual purpose: it’s punishment for their behavior, so it accomplishes one of the main goals, and it’s a teaching moment. Take your child someplace where they’ll be alone for a few minutes (a bathroom or quiet bedroom), and talk about what they did wrong. That will make the conversation more effective and help them learn their lesson.

5. Set Time limits

When we say set limits, we don’t mean let your child do whatever they want and forget about it. Instead, we’re talking about reasonable limits that you can enforce and expect them to follow. If you don’t set limits, your child will push boundaries every chance they get. For instance, if you tell your kid that they have to be in bed by 10 pm every night, then expect them to follow that rule until you change it.

6. Shape Your Child’s Behavior One Step at a Time

Use age-appropriate discipline techniques to shape your child’s behavior one step at a time. Don’t expect your five-year-old kid to do their morning routine without you supervising constantly. Instead, you can provide them reminders by posting pictures on a wall that depicts brushing teeth, combing hair, or putting on their shoes. Once they get used to that, you can move up an age level and expect them to take care of the entire routine.

7. Be Consistent

If you’re inconsistent with your discipline techniques, the only thing your child will learn is that parenting styles change from day to day. You don’t want your child thinking you’re a pushover one day and a tyrant the next. Instead, use the same discipline techniques every time you discipline your child. It will help your child learn that consistency in parenting is important.

8. Help Your Child Understand the Reason Behind Discipline

To make discipline more effective, you need to teach your child a lesson and make it a positive one. You can start this process by going over why you’re disciplining them. For instance, if they did something wrong, tell them what they did wrong and why it was wrong. If you don’t go over the reason behind their actions, they won’t learn lessons from their mistakes and will continue to repeat them.

9. Be a Role Model

Children learn from what they see. If your child sees you being irresponsible, then they’ll consider that behavior normal because you’re doing it. If you want your child to have strong self-discipline, help them learn to be responsible by being a role model of self-discipline. For instance, if you’re more disorganized than they are, teach them how to be organized. If you’re not comfortable with some things, let them know why they shouldn’t do those things. All of these actions will help your child learn how to be responsible.

10. Positive Affirmations

Positive Affirmations build character by forging your child’s belief in themselves. If you tell your child they can do anything, no matter what they think is impossible, it’ll help them believe that kids can accomplish whatever they want. By doing this, it helps in fostering their self-discipline. For instance, if your child complains about doing homework, you can tell them something like this, “I know you can do it; I believe in your ability.” With enough positive affirmations, your child will start to believe it. In turn, it helps them learn self-discipline as they focus on the task at hand.

The Importance of Teaching Children Self-Discipline Skills

Teaching Children Self-Discipline

When discipline is used correctly, it helps children build self-confidence because they can succeed in difficult tasks. Also, the more self-discipline they have, the more confident they’ll feel about facing life’s challenges.

If you give your child choices that are right or wrong and then set up consequences for their choices, you’re helping them learn how to act in different situations. These skills will help them become better people with strong moral character.

  • Builds self-reliance

Having self-discipline means your child realizes that they need to deal with difficult situations on their own. They’ll know that asking for help isn’t always the best option, and they can handle difficult situations better when they work on their own.

  • Builds responsibility

Having self-discipline means your child is more responsible because they realize the consequences of their actions. They’ll be more inclined to help out around the house because they have learned to for their actions.

If you want your child to have strong self-discipline, you need to teach them the importance of following the rules and showing respect for others. Give them some advice on how to be self-disciplined and encourage them as they try it out. Once they get the hang of it, start noticing their improvements as a parent.


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