It’s never too early to teach your kids how to have a little restraint. Learning to have self-control at a young age can help children in their adult working life, a study suggests. The researchers found that children who are able to control their impulses are likely to spend 40% less time unemployed as adults than those children who had a lower capacity for self-control.
This could be because children who have a high level of control over their actions and words are generally more attentive, know how to behave appropriately, fight impulsiveness and don’t give up easily when they have to perform difficult tasks.
The study was reported by Times of India. Children as young as seven-years-old were measured for their self control and the findings were adjusted against factors such as intelligence, social class and family background and health factors. According to the research there is a clear link between lack of self-control and the likelihood of unemployment in adult life.
During the 1980s recession, individuals with low childhood self-control were among the first to lose jobs, had a significantly higher rate of unemployment than others, and it harder for them to find new jobs. Other factors such as stress, being under-skilled due to long periods of unemployment, and the development of poor habits that hinder job searches, such as irregular sleep patterns, could also have contributed to their joblessness.
Self-control, like motivation to study and other other aspects of personality, is inherited, but people can also learn to adapt their behaviour. It will take effort on your part, but here are a few ways that as a parent you can help your child by teaching self-control:
- Play games. Okay, this could actually be easy. Play a game like Red light, green light where your child has to walk towards you when you say “green light” and freeze when you say “red light”, and after a while switch it around so that the child has to walk when you say red light. This is basically teaching children to stop and think rather than just reacting to a stimulus. Research has shown that this can help children who are starting from a very poor base of self-control.
- Create a plan. Teach your child to plan out their time and activities. For example, rather than ordering your child to do his or her homework whenever you want, ask your child to plan out the day and set a regular time time for doing the homework, guiding him or her in allocating enough time. Also let them add in free time for unstructured play. Then check in occasionally, asking for example, “Where are you on your schedule.” If the child then doesn’t do it, remind him that it was his schedule. Be patient. It may take a while to build the habit and there may be days when it doesn’t work at all.
- Be consistent. You can help instill self control by rewarding appropriate waiting behaviour or delaying gratification until a task is done, but then do follow up with the reward. Otherwise children will learn that it is better to grab the reward right away.
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