Self control: asking permission

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Today we are going to talk about asking permission.  What does asking permission have to do with self control?  It starts at a very young age.  When a child wants a toy or crayons that someone else is using or has in their possession, the first thing that pops in their head is to grab it and take it for themselves.  Then as they get older they may use things that belong to their siblings or friends without asking.  As teens this may evolve into going out or to places without clearing it first with their parents.  As adults we may do things because we feel we have the right to do so (because we are adults).

What would happen if as a 5 year old we just grabbed the markers out of the hand of another child?  Is it safe or fair?  Will that solution work?  Of course not, we expect that we would learn to ask nicely without grabbing or yelling.  So we say “Excuse me, may I use that marker when you are done?”  As we get older We can begin to learn about respecting the rights of others and their property.  Even as pre-teens we learn that it is the respectful thing to ask for permission from our siblings and friends if we want to use their video game, or other possession.  Then we return it when we say we will.  This begins to build trust and respect for each other.

As we get older and have more freedom though we want to remember that just because we have the right to do something does not mean that it is the respectful thing to do.  Asking for permission for things that we want and need, instead of just taking them, helps to build trust and respect.  If as a teen you are spending the evening at a friends house and they decide to go visit another persons house, it builds trust and respect if we call and ask permission from our parents.  Why should we do this?  Using our empathy imagine how mom and dad would feel if they called for you and you were not where you said you would be.  They would first be very frightened and then upset and then they would begin to not trust you for your word.  A simple phone call would resolve all of that and create a better relationship with your parents.

Having said that about our kids it is time for us as parents to examine how we treat them.  If we are going out do we let others know where we are going and what time we expect to return.  If this is not a practice we have, we cannot expect our children to do any different.  In fact they are going to believe that being a grown up means you can do what you want, when you want, without telling anyone.  Taking this simple step of – self control – has far reaching impact on our relationships with our family and friends.


Teaching “failure tolerance”

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When a child is learning to walk, we cheer their every attempt. Finally after many “failures” they gain a single step and then all of us cheer wildly. One day in a Tiger Tot class one of the siblings just about a year old took his first step. All the moms were cheering right in class. The young child takes all this in and keeps trying until finally walking is no big deal.
But sometimes as parents when the child is older we try to lessen the suffering of not reaching a goal or success. We might do it by taking the blame on our selves or by punishing the child hoping that he will learn not to make that mistake again. In the end when we make to big a deal about failures or mistakes, we are not helping them keep from making the same mistake again.
In fact what we may be doing is ensuring that the child may not want to risk again. They feel the need to cower and hide from opportunities that could, possibly, maybe, end up in a mistake. They may be afraid to explore their own dialogue. In fact they may end up being driven by external forces in making decisions about what is right for them to do. Once any of us look at the external forces for making a decision choosing what we are willing to risk, our confidence suffers.
We are now open to being swayed by whatever the latest fashion or trend is and not taking the time to ask ourselves, “What is the right thing to do,” “for me” not anyone else just me. As parents our responsibility is to let the child know how remarkable it was that they made the attempt and point out the good that came from it, including the the things they did well within their failed attempt.
We must be careful not to dwell on the mistake, but to celebrate the successes and move forward. Allow ourselves or our children to work out how to overcome the adversity.