The Voice of Experience

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The Voice of Experience

Self control is such an important quality/skill for us to develop in our kids, but I think it may well be one of the most difficult things to teach, as most of us struggle with it as adults, and it is taught mostly through our actions.  We are models for self control (or the lack of it) for our children every day whether we like it or not.  They carefully watch our actions, hear all of our words,  see how we cope with stress, anger, hunger, etc.  If you look back at the last week, month, year, what kind of example did you set for your child?  Was it the same that you expect from them?   Unfortunately, that answer for most of us is no.

As a parent we need to be able to demonstrate self control in our day to day lives, as well as to find teachable moments and give reminders to our children.  I had the benefit of having parents who always helped me keep in mind the importance of not acting or reacting on emotion, or impulse.  Of course I had plenty of times that I made poor decisions based on my frame of mind or attitude, but I can remember my mom always taking the opportunity to teach me a lesson through it.  I can’t tell you how many times that she told me that I couldn't allow my feelings, to dictate my choices, or how I treated those around me.  In our household, it wasn't acceptable for you to use your emotions as an excuse for your actions.   It’s a conversation I’ve also taken the opportunity to discuss with my own children.  For me it’s been one of those defining moments as a parent:  that day you realize you sound just like your mom (or dad).

In truth these are some of my favorite chats with the kids.  It’s an opportunity for me to express my own challenges in regards to self control, and my plans for improvement.  They in return do the same.  We’ve taught them that Self control is like a muscle.  So in the same way that we have to exercise to build muscle and we have to be consistent in order to maintain it, we have to practice self control regularly as well.  It’s definitely easier said than done.  So in doing some of my own research on Self control, I found this article  “The 6 Secrets to Self Control.”    http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2012/09/17/the-six-secrets-of-self-control    I think it’s a great read .  It gives some great strategies that we can practice as adults that are also easily sharable with our children.

Sometimes the best life lessons are the ones taught not from a position of authority, but from the voice of experience; and the best teachable moments come from a heart expressing understanding for what they are struggling with, and solutions to their challenges, not anger or frustration with their “failures”.