Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wisdom Learning from Raising Little Man: Teaching a Child Self-Control


About a year and a half ago we created a mental list of six things we wanted to try to possibly help Little Man.  We heard stories of kiddos doing "x" and how it tremendously helped the child.

For the last eight months we have been "trying" the final option on our list:  Tae Kwon Do (after the first five failed to provide the improvements that we hoped would occur).  This Korean martial art that combines combat and self-defense techniques has shown to help children with focus and attention.

Honestly, I can't say that Tae Kwon Do has helped Little Man in behavior and self-control.  I can say that it has provided me with some techniques that have been very helpful at home. 

The first technique is "Lock It Up."

Step 2 - Lock it Up (Self-Control)

When the Master (senior instructor) says "lock it up," the child is to immediately sit criss-cross, back tall, and hands on the knees with mouth closed and eyes on the instructor.  This position keeps the child from moving, talking, and the hands still. 

This has carried over to our home as I use this to immediately get Little Man's attention and focus.  I can use this position to tell him what I need done or when he is upset to help him gain control.  When we need to have a family meeting (update all the kids about the day's plans), I will have them sit in front of me "locked up." 

I would introduce this technique the same way I did yesterday's blog post of "Come to Mommy."  This works best in conjunction with the child immediately coming when called upon.  If you have not mastered that step, I suggest you start with it first

On a day that you will be home most of the morning, sit the child down to cover the new rule.
You already know that when Mommy says, "Come to Mommy!" you are to immediately come.  You are doing such a great job at obeying Mommy.  Today we are going to learn the next step.  When Mommy says "lock it up" you are going to criss-cross your legs, put your hands on your knees, and close your mouth.
Introduce the game you are going to play.  
Today we are going to practice.  Whenever I say "lock it up" and you do, I am going to give you a sticker.  Every time you obey when I say "Come to Mommy!" and then "Lock it up!" you will receive two stickers.  As soon as you receive 10 stickers, I am going to let you pick a book for us to read together.
After a few days playing, taper off the rewards but keep up the expectations.  If due to a "heart issue" the child doesn't immediately obey, follow through with a consequence.  This could be jumping on the trampoline for seven minutes or another option of your choice. 

"Lock it up" is the same idea as a teacher clapping a specific rhythm (which is what I did when I taught in the public schools), saying a phrase (i.e. 1, 2...Eyes on you), or blowing a whistle.   It is letting the child know the expectations of focus and quiet.

No matter what phrase or idea that you use, it is very important that you follow through with the expectations set.  If you slack off on requiring obedience, the child will see that your commands are optional. 

First-Time Obedience.  Self-Control.  Tomorrow's post Step 3 - Reporting.

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The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.