Whenever I hear the term “self-discipline” it makes me cringe. Even now, as one of the most disciplined people I know.
I think just about all of us can agree that when we think self-discipline, we think deprivation. We associate it with dieting. Working out. Overcoming bad habits. And all in all, we’re not that far off. It is mostly about doing without something so we can achieve a goal.
It’s the outlook you have, though, that determines if it’s a positive or a negative experience. It’s all in your head. If you think you’re “missing out”, look at the things that you are “missing/leaving/etc”. Did you really miss them? Was your day unfullfilling because of it? Probably not. More than likely, you felt good about what you accomplished and forgot completely about the icecream you turned down, or the night of dancing and drinking.
As parents, it is imperative that we practice self-discipline. Our actions affect our kids. All of them. And if we cannot show that we are able to do things that may be unpleasant or uncomfortable (i.e. showing self-discipline) because we have to, we’ll instill it in our kids, as well. And many of us do it already.
Think about the things that makes a great parent. Empathetic. Honest. Even tempered. Positive. At first glance, one may not think there’s self-discipline involved. It’s just what we do. But there is. And sometimes, it’s HUGE amounts of it. Check it out….
Adults don’t always see the “big deal” in a soggy teddy bear (we know they can be washed), a missing lego ship (“if you’d have put it away…”) or a 13yr olds’ break-up (they’re just kids). But instead of saying all those things, making our kids feel like their feelings don’t matter, we hug them and comfort them and fix what’s broken as best we can. And it takes a bit of self discipline to not say “What’s the big deal?”. It’s a big deal to them.
Think about it. We generally don’t. If honesty is something we value as a duty to others, we’ve never really considered that it sometimes makes us uncomfortable. We may fear the outcome of the statement, but if it’s an honest statement based on true facts, it is what it is. That’s why it takes a certain amount of self-discipline to be honest in these situations.
- Even Tempered
Ok, this is kind of a given. When people piss you off, it’s easy to react via instinct. But much harder to not slug someone in the throat when they deserve it. When you can walk away, not scream at your kids as they’re driving you nuts, or keep your cool in traffic, you are showing self-discipline. Be coooool. Like a cucumber. 🙂
I think this is the hardest one. Not in general, but when you don’t want to be. Because it’s easy to see the destruction in being judgemental and harsh, in lying, or loosing our cool. But when you’re just in a pissy mood, it doesn’t seem to effect much. Though negativity can be more detrimental to your overall sanity, and your ability to parent, than anything else. Your focus is gone, you don’t take pride in your work, you’re short with the kids. Negativity is just no good. Not to mention that kids are almost animalistic in that they can sense your emotuions. If you’re stressed and you hold a crying baby, you won’t calm it. Your kids will be more edgy. See if you see it next time.
When we figure out how to “be” these four things, we’ve created at least an excellent base for the emotional growth of our kids. We just have to remember that their success starts with us. 🙂