May is motherhood memoir month

Self-Regulating Children

Isn’t that the dream? Children who just do what they need to do when it needs doing, and we just get to enjoy them?

We’re on child #6 and I have to say, this is as good as it gets. She turned 11 on May 1, and she’s fairly self-regulating, other than the fact that she hasn’t mastered picking up after herself. She makes up for this with a willing cheerfulness most of the time. And by #6, let’s just say we’ve gotten less picky. In fact, according to some of the children who came before, a whole lot less picky.

I guess that’s what happens when you get the chance to learn from your mistakes over a 25 year period (#1 & #6 are separated by a quarter century, but same father…). We’ve run the gamut of parenting styles during the last 35 years, but one thing has emerged as pretty clear: We all do better when each family member develops some self-discipline, which is a skill, not a whim.

The Good News about Bad Behavior, a new book by journalist and parent Katherine Lewis explores the idea that we aren’t teaching our children a valuable skill they need for life. Claudia Rowe, writing for The Seattle Times, highlights the shortfalls of current trends in parenting: “Self-discipline is a skill that requires practice, like learning to ride a bike or do long division, and all of our usual methods of coercion – like time-out punishments or good-behavior incentives – only undermine its development.”

So how do we develop self-discipline? It’s a great question to both think about and read about. What are your thoughts- is this a teachable skill, and how are you doing with it? On day 4 of mamomemo it’s a worthy subject for writing. Won’t you join me? Then post a line from your writing, or a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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