• Parenting with Hope

Teaching Emotional Self-Control

Maybe your child still tends to pitch a full on fit when they’re upset, or maybe you’ve watched your child stomp away pouting. Either way we’ve all seen our children exhibit a LACK of self-control. We all know self-control is an important characteristic in life. You may not have known, but self-control is more important than intelligence when it comes to academic success.

So, we know self-control is vastly important, and we’re probably all on the same boat in stating we WANT our children to show better self-control. The question is, HOW do we teach them that? How do we tame our child's emotional meltdowns?

Maybe you’ve heard of the experiment where a child was put in a room with a marshmallow. A teacher tells the child, “I have to leave the room for a moment. If you don’t eat the marshmallow while I’m gone, I’ll give you a whole handful when I get back.” The video footage that’s been captured watching children agonise over that small marshmallow is hilarious, but it shows us something about children; self-control is a struggle for most.

The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that regulates self-control. It isn’t fully developed until 25 years of age. The only way to help it develop well and more quickly is through practice. Here are some great ways for you to model and for your child to practice self-control:

  1. Make sure not to overreact in situations teaching your child that everything is an emergency.

  2. Anytime your child gives up something for something he/she wants more, they’re developing self-control. If they really want something it’s actually GOOD for them to wait until their birthday/Christmas to get it.

  3. Remind your child that she gets to CHOOSE her response to situations. Our response is our choice.

  4. Encourage your child to take on activities that require self-control like caring for a neighbour’s pet/flowers or a repeated chore.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9 an analogy that teaches us about self-discipline. He tells us that when we enter a race, we’re to go into strict training so we can run in order to win the prize. Training requires great self-control. What are you helping your child train for?

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 9:25

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