As usual, Kara Tamanini has a great article on kids today and learning self control. Her children's book series is excellent! I encourage people to purchase their today!
How to teach kids self-control
Self-control truly is a basic lesson that needs to be learned early in life. Children must understand early that they are the ones that have control over the quality of their life and they have a choice over whether they have privileges or if they have consequences for their behaviors/actions. If a child chooses to do what they are told then they receive privileges or get to do what they want and if they decide to not do what they are told, then their should be consequences for this. Parents must set limits and boundaries and then stick to the consequences of their children’s choices, whether good or bad on a consistent basis.
The basic formula to teach self-control is to give children freedom, allow them to make choices whether it is good or bad, and then deal with the consequences of their actions depending on what choices they have made. When a child has done something good and they have listened, then praise them for it. When they have not, then we dole out consequences. Parents should give privileges when they have been earned and let their children know that they are receiving privileges as a result of having made good choices, no matter what the age of your child. When a child has made poor choices, parents should empathize with what they have lost (ie.. consequences), however they should not say, “I told you so” or “I told you this would happen.” Rubbing it in will not help matters. Make statements such as, “That’s sad that you can’t go out with your friends” or “I feel for you that you don’t get an allowance this week, now you can’t buy that CD.”
The goal as parents is to not control our children, but to make them do what you want them to do. Parents need to give them the choices of what to do and make it painful for them when they make the wrong choices so they won’t want to do them again. When we balance children’s freedoms, their choices, and hand out consequences, this is how we can teach children to control themselves accordingly.