Does self control matter? Research says that it does.

Building awareness is a critical first step in helping your child improve self-control and regain success inside and outside the classroom. Start a conversation with your son or daughter and use the checklist below of target behaviors as important milestones in one’s development of self-control. Once awareness is established then reinforcement measures can be employed in order to help students manage their progress.

This chart below is adopted from research done by Duckworth, Gendler, and Gross (2014).

Situation Selection

  • Studying in the library rather than at home to avoid distraction
  • Spending time with more self-controlled (vs. more impulsive) classmates
  • Joining a sports team with a strict and demanding coach
  • Choosing a route to walk home, which bypasses the mall, or other venues that trigger impulsive behaviors

Situation modification

  • Sitting closer to the teacher and/or farther from more talkative students Placing cell phone out of reach or out of sight (e.g., in a desk drawer)
  • Taking batteries out of the television remote control
  • Choosing due dates for projects that evenly space work over time
  • Turning off wireless connection if using laptop in class
  • Using an app that limits use of Internet or blocks tempting sites

Attentional deployment

  • Tracking the speaker (i.e., looking directly at the teacher or the student who is speaking)
  • Counting backwards from 100 during heated conflicts (e.g., after getting pushed on the playground or in the hallway)
  • Imagining the aftermath (e.g., afterschool detention) of indulging in temptation (e.g., texting in class)

Cognitive changes

  • Appraising physiological arousal (e.g., elevated heart rate) as excitement rather than anxiety during a test
  • Framing mistakes as information rather than criticism
Framing mental effort as an opportunity to exercise willpower
  • Breaking a large, seemingly insurmountable project into smaller, more feasible chunks

Response modulation

  • Engaging in previously planned behaviors
  • Deep breathing

full copy of the study