Attune means harmony. This blog is about harmonizing ourselves in our connection to others and to our planet. I bow to basic goodness in our world and in relationships encourage opening our hearts with love and compassion.

5 Things All Parents Need To Know About
Teaching Self-Discipline

February 18, 2014

By: Susan Grey Smith, PhD, LMFT

If you have a child you know how difficult it is to get the message across that it takes hard work to get what we want.  We all want our children to learn to be responsible adults yet children want everything handed to them on a silver platter!  How do we teach our children about how hard work leads to rewards when we feel so guilty about working so much resulting in limited time to spend with them?  We all want our children to have the good things that we didn’t have, but we usually know it when we’ve crossed the line into over-indulgence.  Don’t be afraid to look at it with full awareness.  We all do it.

Stagnant wages and more demands on our time and money while TV constantly encourages kids to buy, buy, buy leads to more family and job stress.  We may feel trapped in a very negative cycle.  We all know how work and responsibility should fit together in a child’s life but sometimes there is too much “noise” in our environment to recall what our parents taught us.  So here goes with a 5 things we already know.

1.    There are basic material things people need to survive-these include food,

clothing, and shelter–Play Stations, Gameboys, and Smart Phones are not on the list.  Teach your children the difference between needs and wants.

2.    It takes money to be a consumer. Marketing that targets children treats parents like loan officers loaning money to broke customers.  When does this ever happen.  Teach your children that they cannot spend money they don’t have. 

3.    If you’re a child, earning money means doing chores.  Parents shouldn’t

have to pay for work that benefits the whole family.  But there are usually extra chores to do around the house.  It is never too early to provide a way for a child to earn money to pay for what they want.  Teach your children the value of a dollar by earning it and saving up.

4.    Children’s work (making good grades and staying out of trouble) should not be tied to money or they will come to believe that the world owes them a living. Help your child learn the value of internal rewards by teaching them to take satisfaction in a job well done.  Teach your children that there is intrinsic value in doing things well while doing the right thing.

5.    Teach your children that being an adult requires self-discipline–getting up early when we’d rather sleep in, going to jobs when we’d rather be playing, working late when we’d rather be home, and taking the kids to soccer practice when we’re bone tired.  Feeling entitled and having the right to get what you want, even at another’s expense, doesn’t require anything.

Don’t worry so much.  Cut yourself some slack.  Remember, we model for our kids the value of self-discipline because they don’t do what we say do, they do what we do.  Take some time with them to just relax.  You are already teaching self-discipline that will give your children the wherewithal they need to make it in our increasingly complex society.

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