Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Self Control, again!

This is one of those posts I wrote several years ago but am re-posting to share. Self-control hands has become standard operating procedure at our house through out the years. I even use it when I need to keep my mouth quiet, if I have my hands together it means I am working hard to control my tongue and it works - mostly. All those years I was told, "teach them when they are little or you'll have to teach it in the teen years" is now upon us and I am SOOOOOO glad we listened, cause now they are SOOOOO big and it would be way harder to put a pre-teen who's throwing a tantrum in time out. No, my kids aren't perfect and neither are Scott and I but we have a basis of training and moral (Biblical) reason why's to fall back on when times get tough. I'm sure it's going to get even more rough but I love the character and decisions I am beginning to see in my kids.

Self-control is one of those fruits of the spirit that touches everything in our life. It touches what we say, what we do and how we do it. Webster's defines self-control as “restraint excercised over one's own implulses, emotions or desires.” Learning self-control is a life long exercise but we can begin introducing the topic while our children are young. Self-control techniques can really help during those tumultuous pre-school years. My four year old daughter gets told to exercise self-control daily if not hourly over the dramatics she presents us with. This is a very practical lesson to teach to your young (or old) ones that will serve them well all the days of their life.

Idea one: Titus 2:6 says, “... encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity and seriousness.” Many times as parents we dismiss behaviour's that are 'out of control' because they are too young to understand or because that's what two year olds do. I believe that we need to set a standard for our children and even though they might not always achieve it, the standard needs to stay the same. As parents, sit down and dicuss what standards you have for your children, particularly in self-control. For instance, we don't allow temper tantrums. They have the choice of either gaining self-control or going to their rooms. Once your standards are set, sit down with your children and tell them what your home standard's are. With young children you might say, “Mommy and Daddy will not allow you to yell, kick or scream, do you understand? If you choose to do that you may go to room.” Your child (you may have to prompt them) needs to be able to repeat back to you what you just said, so that you know they understand. As a side note, be sure you are not treating frustration tantrums (“I know this block tower goes together, but I can't do it.”) and temper tantrums (“I'm not going to bed and you can't make me!”) the same. In both situations, the child needs to gain self-control but their motives are different.

In a parenting class my husband and I attended we were introduced to “self-control hands”. This is a great technique for little one's, actually it works for older kids as well. They simply place their hands in their lap and hold them together. For many children this helps them to focus and it direct much of their energy and wiggliness to their hands. To introduce this, you might play a game of 'who can hold their hands together and not talk, the longest.' This is a fun game because it doesn't take long for someone to erupt into giggles. As your children become more adept at this, offer a prize for everyone who can have self-control hands and quiet mouths for 30 seconds, then 60 seconds and so on. My children (even my very busy, very wiggly, outspoken little girl) have mastered the three minute mark. In situations where I can see they are about to lose control, I have them practice self-control hands and it has saved us much trouble. Make sure and practice in calm times so that you can use it in turbulent ones.

Remember to praise, prase, praise! Children thrive on praise so point out specific moments when they have used self-control. For instance, “I saw that you were about to get mad when your friend cut in line but I was really proud of the way you used self-control.” Also be sure to praise them when they are about to touch something or do something they shouldn't and use self-control instead.
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  1. Love your insights and thanks for all the comments you've left me, they always make me smile. Especially your comment on the "Random Stuff" post about Disneyland, baby spoons... we are kindred spirits:) XO

  2. Keep on encouraging us Dawn..... I Love it!!

  3. PS Thanks for answering my question!! What a sweet you!!

  4. I love the suggestions you have for self control. You are right about how self control starts from very young. I keep telling our children, "We teach & practise these things (fruit of the Holy Spirit) now so you know how to use them for the rest of your life". It's all about "train(ing) up your child in the way he should go...".

    Thanks for your uplifting blog.
    Are you in the U.K?

  5. Thank you for your uplifting blog. It has been a joy to read. I like the 'self control hands' & 'bouncy eyes' tips. Those are great. Where did you read/hear about the self control hands? It's so true, you can never start training your children the fruits of the Holy Spirit too young.

    p.s. are you from the UK?

  6. Sylvia,

    I am in theU.S. and I will be speaking at WHO.

    I first heard about Self-control hands in a parenting class. We use them a lot.

    Thanks for posting!



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