By The Reverend Christine V. Hides
A cleverly designed study, described in the book Switch by Charles Heath, in which people were asked to eat radishes rather than the homemade cookies on the table in front of them demonstrated that self-control is an exhaustible resource. After internal supplies of willpower needed to resist the cookies were diminished, it became harder for participants to successfully complete the the problem solving portion of the experiment.
The designers of the study would have saved a bunch of time if they had spoken with parents of toddlers. Who knows better about exhaustible supplies of self-control than parents who planfully minimize meltdowns with carefully scheduled meals and nap times?
This fall Children’s Ministry is applying this knowledge to our Sunday morning schedule in order to create a more joyful and intentional experience for the children. With our amazing volunteer teachers, we are developing opportunities for children to flex their self-control muscles in age appropriate ways as we tell stories and have group discussions. Following group time, children will be offered more choices to engage in activities that interest them while delighting in the presence of God and their friends. Attending to developmental reserves of self-control facilitates an environment rich with creativity and joy.
From yesterday’s picture book, Maybe God is Like That Too by Jennifer Grant we learned that God can be found wherever there is goodness, kindness, patience, gentleness, self-control, love, joy, peace, and gentleness. We are grateful for these summer days to nurture the fruits of the spirit and to incorporate them into our teaching and learning.
Self-control is about engaging in activities that interest the child. What activities in self-control has your family cultivated?
- Freeze Dance, Mother May I, Red Light-Green Light, Simon Says -many classic games help us playfully practice self-control. Round up the family for a quick, fun, classic game this week.
- Bubbles are another fun way to practice mindfulness and self-control. Blowing bubbles can help us practice regulating our breathing when we are upset. Holding a bubble on a wand helps us to practice stillness and focus.
- For older children, self-control looks more like developing executive functioning skills. What helpful tips have you found for helping your child to manage their schedule, technology use, free time, chores, and school work?