Learning & Teaching Discipline

Think back to when you were kids; did you have strict parents, grandparents, teachers or coaches? If they were strict for the right reasons they were most likely trying to teach you discipline. Discipline has been used since the beginning of the ages to help shape and develop better people. Discipline is defined as “the practice of training people to obey rules or codes of behavior using punishment.” Seems pretty simple and all too familiar for some us. So, why am I talking about discipline today? In Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled” book he discuss’ 4 tools to discipline; delaying gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth and balancing. He indicated, if practiced we can use these tools to create or improve our discipline. Today I want to focus on delaying gratification.

Discipline can be a great indicator of success for many individuals. Peck explains studies that have examined children who were put in a room with a small bowl of candy and told if they do not eat from it they will get a bigger bowl. The studies showed that the children who were able to not eat from the smaller bowl of candy ended up being more successful in their future.

Think back again, did your parents give you everything you wanted as soon as you asked for it? How do you act now when wanting stuff? Are you able to delay your desire for something better? Discipline can be learned as early as five years of age, give or take, depending on the child.

What does this mean for you and I who aren’t kids anymore? There are a couple of things that stick out to me, which we could utilize depending on where you are in life.

You and I can use delayed gratification to improve our discipline, which will improve our overall life. Whether we were taught discipline growing up, learned after we left our parents or still haven’t learned how to discipline ourselves yet we can create or improve our discipline skills.

Start small. Is there something you enjoy or look forward to each day? A snack, some free time or maybe time with a loved one? Use those things to improve your discipline. If you look forward to a snack in the afternoon, try delaying your snack time by ten minutes. Being productive in your ten minutes will allow you to not think about your snack, this will improve your chances of delaying other things in the future. If you are looking forward to spending time with a loved one, try being a little more efficient to allow you to leave earlier or work through a break. These are two small examples, which might help you improve your discipline through delayed gratification. These are surely not the only two; consider coming up with your own way to delay some type of gratification in your day.

What this means if you are parents. Simply put, teach your children discipline to help improve their chances for success in life! Ok, that wasn’t as simple as it sounded in my head I will admit. But disciplining your children will only help them if done correctly. I wont tell you how to discipline your children because we all have our own ideas. However, I will tell you this, lead by example and learn how to do discipline properly.

Lead by example. Children may not be smart but they surely are not dumb. They watch you, they study you and they do what you do. If you are not disciplined in your life, good luck teaching them to become disciplined. This is important in all areas of life, especially when it comes to moral discipline. If they are morally disciplined they will make better choices when they are on their own. Enough said.

Learn how to discipline your children properly. There is a difference between discipline and being a tyrant. Teach your kids “why” they should do what you are telling them to do. This will not guarantee they will listen better or happily agree but it will help them to understand a little bit. What I mean when I say ‘not to be a tyrant’ is this, “Because I said so,” is being a tyrant. This is not teaching your children discipline; this is teaching them to be bullies. As mentioned earlier, they will do as you do. If you “bully” them because you are a parent and have “power,” what do you think they will do when given the opportunity to lead? I will spell it out for you; they will follow the power system they know, tyranny. Being a tyrant and being a leader are two different things. This circles back to “lead by example.”

Also, as parent, you are not there to give them everything they want but to teach them how to get it. Another way to teach delayed gratification is to give responsibilities with consequences and rewards for completing them. Again, you must be consistent with your children and yourself. If you reward them without them completing their responsibilities, good luck later in life…

Discipline has proven to create successful people with successful lives. Delaying gratification is one of ways both children and adults learn to be disciplined which can improve their chances in life. Whether we were taught discipline growing up, learned after we left our parents or still haven’t learned how to discipline ourselves yet we can create or improve our discipline skills.

 

”It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrew 12:7-11

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Stephen Mattson

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