Friday, October 11, 2013

An Easy Tip for Teaching Self-Control

I remember being a young mom and potty training my oldest.

Elayna was 3.

Annalise was 1.

And I had a newborn in a baby carrier.

3 under 3 in a Walmart bathroom.

I learned very quickly that I needed something quick and easy to teach my girls to keep their hands from touching everything in the bathroom.

As I thought about it, I needed something quick and easy for ALL those times that they need to keep their hands and bodies still.

Grocery Store
Post Office
A birthday party where they are NOT the birthday child and they are NOT supposed to be touching the presents...

Moms, you know the times I'm talking about.

What I discovered was that in those moments, they needed to learn self-control.

Whoa... big word for kids under 3.

But I taught it to them anyway. It is a Fruit of the Spirit and a life-long Biblical concept that can help in a million ways over their lives!

And my girls, as young as they were, caught the concept.

Today, my girls are 10, 8 and 7 and we STILL use the word "self-control" quite often.

In the early years, they learned just a few simple things about self-control:

1. Be still

2. Be quiet

3. Be aware

Those three simple things have helped us in huge ways. And as they grow older, I build on them.

We talk often about being still. We talk about being quiet. We talk about being aware of your surroundings. All great things for kids to learn.

Basically, self-control means stop what you are doing and think.

Where am I?
How should I be acting?
What are the rules?
Am I following them?

These are questions you can teach kids to ask themselves.

But... you are thinking... how does this actually work?

So, I had Abby demonstrate...

When I say, "Self-control," the girls know to fold their hands and stop what they are doing.

It is almost a game.

We can be in a gross bathroom (in our travels this happens a lot) or in a church foyer or walking through a meeting place and I need my girls to quickly know it is time to be quiet and keep their hands still.

They know that when mom says self-control, they need to stop moving and listen. They need to look around them. They need to think about the way they are acting.

They have to take responsibility.

Oh and it saves so much talking and yelling and repeating yourself in a stressful situation! Usually in the moments you need your kids to stop, you don't have time to explain. You just need them to quickly act.

This quick and easy self-control tip accomplishes that in a fun way for kids.

I promise. Teach them the words and the concepts before they need to use it. Say "Self-control." Watch it work!

I also am a big "parent ahead" fan. This concept is one part of parenting ahead.

What tips and tricks do you have for teaching your kids self-control?

Joy on the Journey,


  1. LOVE it!!! We just did the fruits of the spirit in children's church and I find my self telling my kids "use self control" all of the time now. We went to kid's convention with the kids from church and when they got wild I was even telling them "use self control." :) Great lesson!

  2. love love love this...and the way you present it to your children!

    1. it is fun :) my girls enjoy the quick response and it really does help them!

  3. Oh I wish I had known this technique when my kids were little. "( Well there are those grandchildren! But how true. Some people think it is funny when you tell kids "no" and they laugh at you. But one day that child may be running toward a busy highway. They need to know the word "no" or "self-control" or any of these other life important commands. Great mother type Jenilee!

  4. Jenilee..."Self control" What a great concept to teach children even when they are very save them from getting into trouble...and to give you peace of mind. Adults can practice this too, to keep themselves in check when temptation strikes. The Fruits of the Spirit...come in so handy! Thank you!!!

    Love, Linda


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