Nurturing successful children isn’t a game of chance, we attribute it by inculcating positive habits in children as they grow, these habits thrive on the backbone of Discipline.
We should start teaching discipline as a virtue to children in the early years when they comprehend simple task, as history teaches us it is the key to true and enduring success. In the words of the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus (50–135 AD), “No man is free who is not a master of himself”. Discipline is the ability to put our thoughts, words and passions under control. It is the ability to delay immediate gratifications, focusing on what matters most. Personal or self-discipline comes from habits, and it is a product of consistent moral principles or values. We build it one day at a time and without discipline, the world will be chaos.
As human beings, our mind needs the discipline to keep up with regular activities and habits. We can scale the rigour of Life with discipline, it requires discipline for a child to study and excel in his academics and other social activities when there are temptations and distractions every day that can lure the child with the benefit of instant gratification.
Studies show it requires 10,000 hours of constant practice to become an expert in any field. The big question is, how do we teach our children discipline to position them for success? Let’s get to it!
SEVEN WAYS TO TEACH CHILDREN DISCIPLINE
Forming the right habits: All positive habits start from deciding and sticking consistently to the decision, even when there is resistance. For instance, at Vine Crest College we don’t wait to see a behavioural gap in a child before tackling the issue because we have a culture that enshrines discipline in every student through practicable routine and motivation. We teach our students that no worthy goal is achievable without discipline.
Setting clear goals and having an execution plan: Setting goals are a propelling force towards being disciplined because of the desire to achieve and surpass those goals. Goals are a motivating factor for children for discipline, especially if they are execution plans to achieve those goals. Children are more likely to succeed with small actions that lead to actualising their big goals. These actions might require dedicating at least an hour every day for study or practice in their area of endeavour without distraction to reach the target.
Surround your child with the right people and environment: It’s a fact that most human beings are influenced by people around them and their environment. Children imbibe character traits we expose them to, if we expose them to an environment of disciplined people, there is a tendency they will also grow to be adults with willpower. The easiest way to develop any traits is to spend time with people that already possess those traits.
According to John Hahn, “you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with” Our school provides the perfect environment and support system for any child to imbibe the discipline.
Start small: Developing new traits is not an easy feat, but taking it a step at a time and breaking the task into small manageable pieces can achieve the required result. We don’t expect a child that can’t walk to run, the child must first crawl. This same principle applies to discipline, a child has to start from somewhere. We should teach children to embrace progress that will lead to perfection.
Teach children to persevere: The disciplined life is not an easy one, but with consistency and encouragement the journey can be easier. There might be shortcomings that will want to deter the child from being disciplined which may be as lack of motivation, lack of finances, failure or even imposter syndrome, but we are to encourage our wards not to lose focus and remain dogged in pursuit of their goal. Resilience is key because successful people never give up, they just learn from their mistakes and look for better ways to reach their goal. Some days your child might just want to take a break, which is fine, but it is imperative as parents that we should always encourage and motivate them.
Don’t encourage excuses: The disciplined life is tough, and it is easy to give in to excuses. Excuses are unjustifiable reasons to explain a situation or something. Excuses in children often stem from fear, procrastination, lies, laziness, self-doubt, low effort, pride and sometimes disrespect. Children should learn to be accountable for their actions or inaction and there should be consequences for their actions to discourage such behaviour. One consequence that works well when dealing with children is to deny them some privileges until they have completed their task. As a parent or guardian, ensure to follow through with giving the consequence. It is imperative to note that some excuses are justifiable, especially when it is beyond the control of the child.
Model good behaviour: We are our children’s role model, children imitate what they see. It is vital we show them the right values with the right actions. Little things count, it might be our wrong attitude to work or giving excuses for lateness. Whatever the case might be, live by example and be the model of the type of behaviours you would like to see in your children.
Discipline is the driving force behind getting anything done in a timely and efficient manner to produce results, as parents and teachers, we have a moral responsibility of inculcating discipline in our children and young people through early, frequent and repetitive communication about it, and we must strive to show it through the consistency of our words and examples. We should always remind our children that life is about choices, a successful person is someone that disciplined himself to stick to the right choice.
Written by Sarah Udoh, Content Writer,
Vine Crest College