Teaching: Self-Control

Powered by scriptures and listening to Dalai Lama Center podcasts this morning (Educating the Heart Series), I was prepared to deal with another minor but constant problem.  It turned out we dropped the art lesson on mosaics and did this instead.

I played judge and listened to both sides of the problem, it was clear that both parties were guilty…again.  “What could you have done differently?”  I asked, honestly amazed at my patient tone.  I re-directed their responses to include ownership of their behavior then had an idea.

“Have you ever heard of the marshmallow study?”  I asked them.  One of my children remembered learning it from a conference talk (Continue in Patience) but was shady on the details.  So, I explained the study on the floor in our entry and we gathered around my phone to watch a short clip of kids practicing self-control with marshmallows.

I asked, “How does waiting with self-control have anything to do with our problems?” I listened to one child recognize that self-control will help him worry less about controlling others.  I listened to the other child recognize that waiting to react will help him keep his temper in check.  They were thoughtful and on target.  Yahoo!

We have talked about these things before (Teaching: Amygdala – Amy for short) but I had a hint of inspiration and approached it from a different angel. I had my children put up their fists, like putting up their dukes.  dino-dukes

  • Fist one represents the problem.
  • Fist two represents the reaction.

When the fists are close together, they are ready to fight.  But…(moving the fist away) by moving the reaction fist away from the the problem fist it buys a little time to think through a response instead of reacting on impulse.

Naturally, we had opportunities to practice this whilst the lesson was going on.  Here’s a slow-mo instant replay (reenacted) of one such opportunity:

After our discussion/lesson my kids brushed off their knees and committed to try to be better next time.  I, on the other hand, kept thinking of how to extend the lesson for more impact.  I think I’ve got it.  Favorite candy bars will tantalize their senses next fast Sunday….wa haha.  But, if they hold out, they get two.


*If this is useful to you please like, share and follow.  It’s hard but good things are happening!

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