Sunday, February 23, 2014

Teaching Self Discipline

Cowbell Half Marathon 2013

Self discipline is one of the most important traits I wish to impart to my children. It is right up there with love, compassion, authenticity, and generosity. I think self discipline and focus pulls together all the other wonderful traits and makes them useful in a practical manner. I know it is a cornerstone of my life and is responsible for the things I have accomplished with the most pride.

But what is the best way to teach this to our children?

Well, like everything you would like your children to become the best way to teach is by example. Living out these qualities so they can see them in action will stamp them on their young lives. We all know children become what they see much more readily than what they are told. Those lessons stick with them forever.

Both of my children would like to learn musical instruments. Hannah is eager to begin the piano and violin. She has asked about it for years. Together we made the decision to wait until she is 7. Daily practice is an important part of the learning process and I wanted her to be mature enough to handle those demands. In the mean time, I have started teaching myself piano. She sees me practice 20-30 minutes a day at least 5 times a week. We have discussed it many times as she sits beside me and watches my every move. She is learning how to learn. She is discovering what it takes to master a new skill. I don't need to lecture her because she is seeing it daily unfold.

It is with this in mind I am considering running another full marathon. The training is hard and takes a lot out of me. The entire family will have to make sacrifices. Both my husband and I are long distance runners so the scenario isn't unknown. I think it is of the utmost importance our children see us challenge ourselves and fight to achieve our goals. Training for a marathon isn't easy and is so far out of my comfort zone, but those exact traits are what makes this process an invaluable lesson to my children. I want them to see me fight, struggle, even consider giving up before I ultimately triumph.

Anytime I discover a trait or characteristic I would like to see my children acquire I take an honest look at myself. Am I emulating this trait? Am I living it out daily in their view? If I am not, how am I going to change my life so that I am?

I am not saying you have to run a marathon to teach your children.No, we all have to find our own path. But I will ask you, are you living out the qualities and characteristic you want your children to have? If not, what can you do about it?

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