The greatest gift to your children: self-discipline

December 6, 2012 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

“The profile of a wealthy person is this: hard work, perseverance, and most of all, self-discipline.  The average wealthy person has lived all his adult life in the same town.  He’s been married once and is still married.  He lives in a middle-class neighborhood next to people with a fraction of his wealth.  He’s a compulsive saver and investor, and he’s made his money on his own.  Eighty percent of America’s millionaires are first-generation rich.  (Doesn’t sound to me like opportunity is dead.)” Zig Ziglar (Bolded for emphasis)

One of the greatest gift a parent can give a child is not money, education or discipline; it is self-discipline. Too many parents focus on discipline to raise their kids while not realizing that discipline can go against the very grain of self-discipline. What is discipline in the context of a parent-child relationship? In that context, I define discipline as a form of punishment to make a child stop engaging in a negative or counterproductive behavior. I’m thinking specifically of punishments to encourage good behaviors such as no wathcing TV or no cell phone use for behavior such as not doing homework.

On the other hand, I define self-discipline as willingly doing what is needed to achieve a long term goal. Why is it that we don’t want our kids to smoke? Because we know it could cause long term health issues such as cancer. Why do we want them to choose homework over play if they only have time for homework? We could think of the skill being taught in that case as giving priority to school work to get good grades. The long lasting skill here is the ability to prioritize to defer short term pleasure for a more worthwhile goal. When a parent has to take the phone away so a kid can focus on an important test the next day, that is discipline. When a kid realizes that the only way to concentrate and prepare for the test is to turn that phone off and do it, that is self-discipline.

Why is teaching self-discipline so important? The simple reason is this. First, every self-disciplined person that I know happen to be very successful. It is so true that I can confidently say show me someone who is self-disciplined and I will show you someone who will be successfull (where I define success as the ability to reach one’s personal goals).

Entry filed under: Sucess. Tags: .

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