The Art of Self-Control

The Art of Self-Control

The stress of the pandemic affects us all in various ways. Some are obvious to us (e.g. Raise your hand if you’re a few pounds up these days 😉  For others, especially kids, the stress from isolation, online school, etc. can manifest itself in an increase in undesirable behaviors.

Children are wound so tight these days because there are more rules they must follow than ever before. By the time the second half of the day comes around, they are mentally exhausted! This “downstairs brain” starts to kick in and override their “upstairs brain” which is the area responsible for self-control.

When this happens, you will see more anger and aggression. With that said, teaching children the skill of self-control will help them to regulate their emotions when they need it most. Here are some tips on ways children can learn how to have more self-control:

  • Show them how to take a few deep breaths when they feel upset, angry, anxious, etc.
  • Teach them how to use positive “self-talk” when they are feeling frustrated.
  • Practice “stop and think” before they act. That brief moment is like tapping the brakes, just enough to avoid problems before they happen.

Self-control is one of the 5 tenets our students recite before and after every class. It is core to our teaching. In the dojang, we meditate for a few moments before and after each class. Every so often I will receive a call from a parent who tells me that their child chose on their own to meditate at home when they realized they were upset. That’s always a great call!

We also chose our words carefully. When a child says, “I can’t do it.” We respond by adding the word “YET.” The student replies back, “I can’t do it YET.” The words we use with ourselves matter!

There are many ways that you can teach children self-control. But of course, these tools work for ALL of us. Would love to hear about the tools that have worked for you. Maybe your feedback can help our students in our mission for them to become “The Best Version of Themselves.”


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