We want to raise children who are able to think for themselves. We also want to raise kids who are self-controlled, here’s how we can try and do both well.
You have brains in your head
Feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself any
Direction you choose
It’s a mother’s dream… to have self-controlled children who use their brains, wisdom, and parental guidance to make good decisions. It’s our goal. Our hope. What we work towards.
And the good news is this… we most definitely can help them develop self-control.
And the bad news is this… we can only lead a horse to water, it must choose to drink on its own.
I think it’s human nature to go toward extremes and – we all know – parenting extremes are not so hot. If we’re looking to raise children who have listened to us, learned the lessons we’ve been teaching, and who grow up to make good decisions, these are two extremes we need to avoid.
Read: Toddler Behavior Stressing You Out? Reset With These Simple Tips
2 Ways We Stop Kids From Learning Self-Control
Modern moms can tend to raise victims. Maybe it’s in the water, but if we aren’t purposefully trying to be reasonable people then it just happens. But don’t fear, don’t feel false guilt, don’t worry you’re screwing up your kids. Just focus on the Majors and not the Minors. So without further ado… here are two ways we stop our kids from learning self-control.
We’re Too Controlling
The bottom line is this… if we control our children they don’t learn to control themselves.
“If we control our children they don’t learn to control themselves.”
Let’s break it down. We do need to create a positive atmosphere at home, we need to meet our children’s needs, and give them clear boundaries. We need to be parental authorities who guide our children in the way they should go.
But we should not control their every move.
Here’s how this may play out:
- Clearly explain family rules and boundaries. Let them know what they are allowed to do and not do.
- Explain consequences for failing to follow through on those boundaries or rules. They should know what they can expect to happen if they do (or don’t do) something.
- Let your child decide what they’re going to do.
- Give them consequences for their actions.
- Allow your child to make their own choices.
- Let them explain their feelings, wants, and desires.
- Give your child space to have Big Emotions, even if you have to remove them from everyone else to do so. You don’t have to make them feel better.
It’s like going bowling with the child bumpers. The bumpers act as boundaries. Nope… can’t go in the right gutter. Uh oh, not the left one either. The ball goes banging from right to left until it hits some pins. You and your family boundaries are the bumpers… you are stable, steady, and predictable. You don’t move. Eventually, they learn to throw the ball straight down the lane the first time.
Being overly controlling is like removing the bumpers. Because their ball may land in the gutter so easily, you hold them, hold the ball, pretend to let them throw it but actually roll it for them. They don’t feel like they got a proper go at it, and think you may as well have done it for them.
That’s overly controlling.
The second way we prevent our kids from learning self-control?
We’re Not Controlling Enough
“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” Ecclesiastes 7:16-18
Kids do not know what is best for them. They know what they want and they know what they like, but they do not know what’s best for them. It’s why they don’t want to sleep, don’t want to eat anything but pop-tarts, and why they do all manner of things that are dangerous. They are immature.
Immature (adj): not fully developed
This means kids should not be given free reign to choose some things. If you are an entry level employee at a big corporation, you do not make executive level decisions. You do not have the experience nor expertise to weigh and test the factors. This is not because the Big Boss doesn’t respect you as a person. It’s because you don’t know what you’re doing yet.
Neither do our kids.
Essentially, if you don’t require things of your children they don’t learn to act with self-control. Why? Because they don’t have to make themselves do anything in particular. They can just do what they want. This not only creates a sense of entitlement and unreality, it leaves the ill prepared for adulthood.
Not One or The Other
Yes, fine, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. But no, no you aren’t. Know why? Because there’s a middle ground!
You can make rules.
You can make consequences for breaking the rules and rewards for keeping them.
You can let your kids make their own decisions.
You can follow through with said consequences and rules.
You can not be so emotionally caught up in each of your child’s choices.
You can teach them to think for themselves. Catch them if they start falling, but let them try to walk on their own.
Want to learn your parenting style?
Each of us have our own personality, temperament, and giftings. And, the truth is, we parent best when we work with these instead of against them. Take this assessment so you can work to your strengths, and be the mom you want to be for yourself and your children.