You want to keep at it, not give in, try and try again, ignore the temptations? For all of these, you need self-control. It takes work and discipline, but you can train yourself to fight the urges.

Self-control is not an easy topic. There are different ideas about what it is, when and how we develop it and even experts who wonder if we (kids, especially) need it all that much.

Let’s say, as most do, that self-control is choosing to give up what you want so you can have something you want even more. One important point, says Canadian psychologist Laura Markham, is that self-control is about the self.

Kids, for instance, have to make the choice to give up something and can’t feel forced. The reason you control an urge must come from inside you.

One thing making self-control hard, is that you don’t get the rewards very quickly. You’re trying to lose weight, so you only eat half the chocolate slab you’d normally devour in one go. You want something else more than the easy sweet fix: weight loss. But it will probably take weeks before you see the difference the chocolate rationing makes.

So it will be a constant struggle – doing without something now so you can have rewards later. You know it’s better to invest in the future – exercise for better health, saving for your old age and so on – but your present self also demands satisfaction.

The American Psychological Association says practice alone won’t give you better self-control. We’re just not built for it. The way to get it, is to get rid of temptations.

Recent research has shown that what tempts people varies a lot. This means you can figure out your weak spots and work on them. Preparation is the key. Plan your day and you're less likely to waste time by sneaking a peek at social media. When you visit friends, mute your phone so you won’t annoy them by constantly glancing at your messages.

Set goals – concrete ones and not something vague such as getting fit. Don’t make them too tough, so you don’t get disheartened. Find motivation. Pick a reward for when you reach your goal.

Check your progress. Some experts say monitoring progress keeps you focused, much like weighing yourself keeps you determined to keep working on your weight.

The better shape your body and mind are in, the easier this gets. This means learning to manage stress. Taking a few deep breaths slows your heart rate and helps you relax. Exercise regularly, eat well, get enough sleep. It improves focus, your health and brain functions. Low blood sugar and too little sleep can lead to bad decisions.

You will fail sometimes or have lapses. It’s human. Don’t feel bad or guilty about it.

If you make the decision about self-control, you feel free and in charge of your own life. Research shows you function better and handle stress better when you feel in control.

Make self-control part of your lifestyle. Psychologist Howard Rachlin believes self-control comes from choosing patterns of behaviour, not single acts. With giving up smoking, for instance, not lighting up tonight might make it easier not to the next day and so on.

Make then-if plans. They go like this: if someone is rude, you’ll breathe and count to ten instead of blowing your top. If you order pizza, you’ll pick a small with vegetarian toppings. Before you know it, your automatic reaction in certain situations will be the good one.

One of the best ways to learn something is through play. Try this game. On the way somewhere, tell your kid to freeze when you say a certain word. It teaches them to stop and think before acting, which is a building block of self-control.

For example, you can teach your kid language that shows self-control. May I borrow that. OK, we can share. Thanks, I'll have one later.

Pick a quiet spot where your kid can sit and calm down when things get too intense. This shows them there is a way to get feelings under control. Reward self-control – just not so royally that your child ends up doing it only to get a treat. Give praise when you see them try, even if they fail.,,,

BUILD UP YOUR SELF-CONTROL BUILD UP YOUR SELF-CONTROL Reviewed by Jet Club on February 21, 2020 Rating: 5
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