Counseling Focus: The Practice of Self Control

“In any culture, the development of self-control is crucial. This ability, which depends on the prefrontal cortex, provides the basis for mental flexibility, social skills, and discipline. It predicts success in education, career and marriage. Indeed, childhood self-control is twice as important as intelligence in predicting academic achievement. Conversely, poor self control in elementary school increases risk of adult financial difficulties, criminal behavior, single parenthood and drug dependence.” –New York Times, Published February, 2012

Over the course of the school year our students have been focused on a variety of topics that help build their character not only here at Solomon but in their whole life. These topics have included: following the Golden Rule, Respect, Responsibility, Goal Setting, etc. At this time in the school year students often find themselves losing focus. Especially with the warm weather upon us distractibility can become more apparent in the classroom not only with academics but socialization as well. Building the skill of self control is a must to successfully complete the school year.

Have a discussion with your children to see if they are struggling with self control at school can help facilitate the conversation of strategies that can be tried. Providing examples of our struggle as adults in daily life, at work and home can also be helpful in conveying that these issues and skills will be an ongoing benefit for the future. 

Strategies to support self control include:

  • • Relaxation techniques: such as deep breathing, stretching, and counting to ten.

Relaxation can calm our minds from racing with anxiety, panic, negativity, etc. and allow us to clear our thoughts with a fresh start.

  • • Taking a break: such as moving onto another assignment, throwing an item in the garbage, getting a drink of water, making a visit to the bathroom.

A break often provides an opportunity to expel some pent up energy. Afterward, we can then reapply ourselves to the task at hand.

  • • Motivation / Motivators: such as a time limit, free time, and an enjoyable activity.

Supplying a competitive edge often pushes us through the completion of a task, especially a non preferred one. However, we must be cautious that the quality of our work does not suffer as a result.

Self control can seem simplistic and much like common sense however revisiting the topic often proves beneficial as each school year brings new experiences and struggles.

Sarita Ptak
Solomon School Counselor