Teaching Your Child Self-Discipline For Success



I had a fantastic session the other night with one of my teenage counselee’s. The fourteen-year-old boy is everything a parent would want from their son. He does not drink, smoke marijuana, get in trouble at school or follow the crowd. He’s a happy kid who wears a big smile and seems quite content. Academically, he does fine; he’s not a straight A student and needs the support of a daily tutor to help him succeed. It’s not that he struggles with academics; he struggles with what a lot of kids his age struggle with,  self-discipline. The tutor is there to watch over him to make sure he is completing his assignments. Left to his own devices he would miss most of his homework assignments.

After speaking with his mom for ten minutes prior to our session it became clear that the boy lacked discipline. He needed constant reminders to complete mundane tasks like waking-up in the morning, brushing his teeth and remembering to bring his book bag to school. His mom knows how great of a kid her son is but his constant forgetfulness was driving her and her husband crazy. I knew exactly what I needed to do to get this kid going.

I recently read an article about a commencement speech given to the University of Texas, Austin graduating class of 2015 by a former Navy Seal Commander. The speech was considered the best commencement speech of 2015. The speech centered on a very basic principle—MAKE YOUR BED EVERY MORNING. According to the admiral, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.” The concept behind this message is what helped me to help my fourteen-year-old client.

I began my session with the boy by discussing his discipline and motivation. His big smile filled my office as we talked. I told him that I wanted him to commit to one thing, every day in the upcoming week prior to our session the following week. I explained that what I wanted him to do was rather simple and that it would trigger something inside of him that would gradually make him become more disciplined. He was eager to hear what I had to say but I continued to dangle the carrot until he finally said, “ok I’ll do it; tell me what it is?” Finally I said to him, “I want you to make your bed every morning for the next seven days as soon as you wake up.” His smile grew bigger, along with a confused look on his face. He then said, “really?”

I continued the conversation with, “do you know exactly where you keep your toothbrush? He responded, “yes I keep it in the drawer next to the sink.” Next I asked him to imagine himself waking-up and making his bed, the task he agreed to accomplish. I then told him to imagine his toothbrush while he is making his bed. He imagined the scene in his mind a few times until he finally made the mental connection between his bed and his toothbrush. I explained that after he has finished making his bed each day that I wanted him to go into his bathroom and take the toothbrush out of his drawer. Since making his bed would now be automatically associated with the image of his toothbrush it would be easy for him to remember to brush his teeth. I continued to paint the scene for him. He would wake-up, make his bed, brush his teeth and take a shower. His mind was perfectly set-up for what was to come next.

As we continued to talk I asked him what the first thing was that his parents asked him in the morning when he made his way into the kitchen. He said they always asked, “Did you brush your teeth?” I told him to imagine walking down the stairs, entering the kitchen, and before his parents had a chance to ask him about brushing his teeth, saying to them, “don’t worry I already brushed my teeth.” I then said, “imagine doing this every day for the next week?” How do you think your parents will react? How do you think you will feel?” He explained that he would feel empowered and that his parents would be happy. I then asked him that if he felt empowered every morning wouldn’t that encourage you to want to continue to be self-sufficient in everything that you do? Wouldn’t that get the ball rolling, creating a great motivation and discipline? His smile grew bigger and he said, “definitely!”

This simple exercise and commitment by my client is the foundation for him to start becoming more disciplined and responsible and gradually more motivated and hard working, which is the formula for success. I’m looking forward to meeting with this boy again next week and building on this formula. And, of course, I gave him one more assignment. I told him I wanted him to unplug from his devices for a good hour every evening and reflect on his new goals instead of being distracted from them.

Screen Time Images

Here are some great images that depicts the pervasive amount of time we spend staring at screens.


Excess screen time could be aging kids eyes

A new study shows that something known as dry eye, which is common in adults is now occurring in children because they spend too much time staring at screens.  Another thing parents should look out for is potential hearing issues.  Since most teenagers wear ear-buds throughout the day, researchers are predicting that by age thirty, many kids will need hearing aids because of the nerve damage to the ears.


The Art of the Apology When Talking Politics

Do you know how to say, I’m sorry?  If so, you are more emotionally intelligent than you think.  If you’re one of those who can’t resist talking politics and have even gone as far as attacking others on social media, your saving grace can be broken down into two words – “I’m Sorry”.   As a regular contributor for Fox news, here is a recent clip from a Fox & Friends segment I did explaining why apologizing is such an important attribute.

The Art Of The Apology – On Fox & Friends