Creative Child

The Important Power of Self-Control in Parenting

by Rebecca Eanes


Step Two: Choose Your Perceptions

As you become aware of your patterns of behavior, you’re likely to find that your perceptions are driving your emotions and reactions. If you perceive your child as willful, naughty, or testing, that’s going to elicit a negative reaction. There’s a great quote credited to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that says, “The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.” Therefore, changing your perception will change your reactions and behaviors. When you see the child not as difficult but as seeking help or connection, you’ll respond from a place of love rather than reacting from a place of fear, and love is always the right response. 

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Step Three: Switch Your Attention

Are you constantly focusing on your child’s faults, mistakes, and shortcomings? Where you focus your attention is where all your energy goes, so if your energy is feeding the negative behaviors, guess what you’re doing to see more of? Also, when you focus on weaknesses and faults, it colors your perception. Start focusing on what you want to see, not on what you don’t. This goes for behaviors you want to see from your child and also your own. Socrates says, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” 

Step Four: Focus on Connection

Connection helps us all be better people. When children feel emotionally connected, safe, and secure with us, they feel better and behave better. We have greater influence and get more cooperation. The same is true for adults. Healthy, positive relationships mean we see the best in each other, believe the best in each other, and guide one another to optimal growth. To connect heart to heart, spend some time laughing, playing, and just being fully present and loving. 

Self-discipline is a mental game. We cannot simply will away the negative reactions that have rooted themselves in our brains. We must work daily at being aware of our thoughts and emotions, choosing positive perceptions, focusing our attention on the good in ourselves and others, and staying connected to those we love. If you can’t control what you think and what you focus on, you can’t control what you do. Master your own mind so you can then teach your children to do the same.

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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