Has your child learned the discipline of delayed gratification? As Christian homeschooling parents living in a "me first" society, our children need us to teach them more than just academics. Learning godly character qualities like self-control can set the stage for success later in life. In fact, according to a recent article in The New Yorker that followed up on a Stanford University study of 650 children in the 1960s, people who displayed self-control as children were more likely to be positive as adults and have successful marriages, higher test scores in college, better-paying jobs, better health, and more fulfilling lives.
What is self-control?
As defined in Horizons Health from Alpha Omega Publications®, self-control is choosing to listen to God and do what you should do, rather than what you want to do. Rather than relying on self-pleasing impulses, self-control is the ability to choose one's behavior and reactions toward circumstances. However, learning to choose "should" over "want" is hard for children, and like any other hard thing, it takes time, practice, and effort to do it well. That's where the acronym S.P.U.D. comes in handy.
Teach self-control with S.P.U.D.
With the S.P.U.D. formula, your children can learn to avoid an unhappy life without self-control. When "hot potato" situations arise that tempt one to sin and "mash" the abundant, spirit-filled life God desires, your children can learn that life yields more positive outcomes when they take the time to stop and remember the following principles:
S - Self-control
God wants you to be able to control yourself. Like looking both ways before you cross the street, it's important to think before you act. Not only will it help you get along with your family members and homeschool friends, but it will also keep you safe from dangerous situations.
P - Pray
Before you act or react, pray! Ask others for their advice. Think about how you would like to be treated. Most importantly, think about what Jesus would do and look to God's Word in the Bible for answers.
U - Understand
After pausing to think about your options, try to understand the end result of each action and who it will impact. There are consequences to what you say and do, and someone might get hurt. Memorize Proverbs 25:28: "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
D - Decide
Don't be a puppet that lets Satan move your mouth, arms, and legs. Make your decision on how to act based upon obeying your loving Father in heaven. It's always the wise thing to do!
Be an example.
In addition to S.P.U.D., setting a good example is a great way to teach your children how to discipline their impulses. Try talking out loud during your own crisis, so your children can hear how you think. For instance, if unforeseen problems cause you to be late in getting to church on Sunday, pray, take a deep breath, and say, "Well, we'll do the best we can to get there in time." Instead of responding in a negative or angry way to stressful situations, you'll show your children better ways to react by allowing the Holy Spirit to help you control your actions.