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How to Teach Your Kids Self-Control

1. Set limits

Set limits and consistent boundaries at the outset. Kids don't understand the difference between wants and needs. You are the boss, and their teacher.

"Your crisis isn't everybody else's emergency," is a good rule of thumb to teach them.

2. Stay calm

Stay calm to demonstrate your own self-control. They need to know that their reaction is out of proportion to the problem, but they can't learn that if you're yelling, too.

3. Enforce consequences

Enforce direct consequences as opposed to arbitrary punishment. If they throw a tantrum over wanting to watch a TV program, shut the TV off, rather than say, sending them to their room.

Children are more intelligent than parents think they are and appreciate having to figure things out.

4. Use teachable moments

Use teachable moments to address behavior. Make them take responsibility -- guide them to identify what they did and identify better behavioral choices.

5. Encourage mistakes

Let them make mistakes. Problems are opportunities to learn better behavioral and coping skills. Comfort them, but encourage them to try self-discipline again, noting what they did right.

6. Be a role model

Set a clear example by following the rules you set. Kids emulate their parents' actions, so illustrate how gratification can be delayed and how to cooperate with others' needs in mind.

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