Friday, November 1, 2013

Parenting Value: Self-Control

Parenting Value: Self Control, Discipline

Self Discipline

Physical, mental, and financial self-discipline. Moderation in speaking, in eating, in exercising. The controlling and bridling of one's own appetites. Understanding the limits of body and mind. Avoiding the dangers of extreme, unbalanced viewpoints. The ability to balance self-discipline with spontaneity.


This year, as he approaches fourteen, our most undisciplined child is beginning to show great progress. Three years ago he simply could not remember to do his homework. On occasion when he did do his work, he couldn't seem to remember whether or not he'd handed it in. His thoughts were immersed in model airplanes, snakes and gerbils, and computer games. Nothing else mattered much to him. I was constantly nagging him to clean his room and "get his act together." 

Then two fairly significant things happened to him: Our family moved to England, and he was enrolled in an extremely disciplined school for boys, complete with a school uniform that included black wool pants, black leather shoes, gray socks, a white shirt, gray V-neck sweater, school tie, and blue blazer. Any boy lacking any part of his uniform was severely reprimanded. Not only that, each boy was required to take thirteen subjects, which included physics, chemistry, classical studies, and mythology. Not a bad schedule of classes for a seventh-grader! Each boy was required to carry an assignment notebook in the left-inside pocket of his jacket. Each class and the assignment for that day were to be carefully printed inside. Any teacher could stop any boy and ask to see his notebook at any time. If the notebook was not there or was not complete, the student was doomed to detention. 

At about the same time, I decided that my relationship with this child was suffering because of my incessant reminders to practice, to clean his room, to get his homework done. I eased off, and decided that my communication and friendship with him were more important than the tidiness of his room. 

This year this boy was transformed from a caterpillar to a lovely moth. (He can't really be classified as a butterfly, because his room still looks about the same -- even though he cleans it up at least once a month now without being asked.) 

I find little homework lists in the jumbled place he calls his room, and he just became an Eagle Scout and a member of the National Honor Society. Instead of thinking of him as a thorn in my side, I now regard him as one of my favorite people. -- Linda 

Self-discipline means many things: being able to motivate and manage yourself and your time, being able to control yourself and your temper, being able to control your appetites (and here the companion word moderation comes into play). 

Self-discipline and moderation are two sides of the same coin. Self-discipline is pulling up and away from the laziness of doing too little. Moderation is pulling in and away from the excesses of trying to do or to have too much. 

Discipline and moderation are profound and universal values because their presence helps us and others and their absence inevitably causes short- or long-term hurt. 

These are values on which all parents must work personally. And it is our example, more than any other method or technique, that will teach this value to our children.


Review the activities and stories that go along with this months value. Make sure everyone in your family understands the value so they can see how they can apply it in their own lives and situations.

Talk about the Monthly Value every morning and remind your family to look for opportunities to use the value throughout the day. They may also observe how others don't understand the value. Get your children to share their experience with the value each day at the dinner table or before you go to bed. Be sure to share your experience each day as well. It will help your children know that you are thinking about the value too.

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