Traits of Self-Disciplined Children



Look around you. Whiny, lazy, unmotivated kids are a dime a dozen, but self-disciplined children are few and far between. Just how can you identify a self-disciplined child and what sets him apart from all the rest? Licensed psychologist and author Sherrie Campbell suggests the following are hallmarks of a disciplined child’s make up.

Self-Control. Self-control is known by many names: Willpower. Conscientiousness. Delayed gratification. Whatever you want to call it, this practice in simple terms is the ability to regulate oneself and inhibit impulses, both of which are critical in developing emotional maturity. A self-controlled child not only says “no” to desirable objects in the immediate but also chooses to say “yes” to doing what is right, regardless of how he feels. This skill has far reaching effects on everything from academic success to interpersonal relationships to work habits, physical and emotional health and more.

Empathy. We live in a culture that breeds egoism, the habit of valuing everything only in regards to personal interest, beyond all else. The result of so much self-indulgence can be unsavory, but perhaps one of the greatest tragedies is that in the mix, children lose the ability to consider how other people feel. Self-disciplined children, in contrast, seek to see beyond themselves and are able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Empathetic children don’t simply take pity on others from a distance but develop genuine care and understanding as they strive to relate to others and their feelings.

Responsible. Self-disciplined kids take pride and ownership in how they contribute at home, school and beyond. They see their role as a valuable one and strive to put forth their best effort, knowing their actions affect others as well as themselves.

Self-Motivated. Simply put, doing good feels good. And when making good choices brings about positive consequences, disciplined children will strive toward excellence, regardless of outside incentives or promptings, because it’s personally rewarding.

Self-Confident. Disciplined children are confident in who they are, as they know their value is found in what they are made of, not what they can do. This deep sense of self-worth is not based on personal performance or outside validation but comes from within.

Respectful. A self-disciplined child will respect the authority figures in his life, viewing their role as helpful and valuable. Instead of undermining someone in leadership when he disagrees, a self-disciplined child has the confidence to assert himself and does so through a respectful appeal.

Accountable. Part of growing in maturity means learning to accept responsibility for your mistakes. Being held accountable provides room for growth, and self-disciplined children acknowledge this.

Resilient. Thomas Edison went through 1,000 failed attempts before he achieved the success of a working light bulb. When asked about it, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The lightbulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. Great success is built of failure, frustration, even catastrophe.” Self-disciplined children know that not everything comes on the first try and that learning through mistakes and mishaps is perhaps the greatest outcome of a “failed attempt.”

Joyful. Ask any parents what they hope for their children and the overwhelming response is they want them to be happy. Ironically, when happiness is sought at the expense of personal disciplines, children flounder. A wise parent acknowledges that childhood is the training ground through which children prepare for adulthood. And self-discipline is one of the most integral parts to a successful life. When children own that for themselves, they find deep personal satisfaction. Indeed, self-disciplined children are among the happiest.

 

Lauren Greenlee seeks to raise confident, self-disciplined boys. She and her family reside in Olathe.

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