It seems like every parenting book or article I lay eyes on these days concludes with something like, "Self control is the MOST IMPORTANT INDICATOR OF HOW A CHILD WILL TURN OUT!!!! THEY MUST HAVE COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF SELF-CONTROL OR THEY WILL FAIL AT EVERY TURN!!"
Then I look around at my brood, with all of the random objects they have stuffed in their mouths, their hands never still but always shredding up something that doesn't belong to them, constantly shouting out whatever random thought has just popped into their adorable little brains.... and I realize we are all doomed.
I can't even count how many times I have run back to Google to find out "how to teach self control." I have also tried, "Games to improve self-control" or "activities to help with self control." I end up wading through all kinds of suggestions varying from inane to overly complicated, and there are only so many times we can play "Freeze Dance" or "Red Light, Green Light." (We've also done a few different variations of the "Marshmallow Test," but I think my kids are getting a little old for that one now.
So, having exhausted what few resources I could find, I was still at my wit's end for how to instill self control in these youngsters. I yell "Practice self control!" on a very regular basis around here, but that doesn't seem to work all that well.
Now, I am turning to my old standby: BRIBERY.
We have instituted Self Control Thursdays for the next few weeks, and we'll see how it goes. The first one was last week and it was welcomed with some mild enthusiasm, since I told them they were going to get money.
I announced on Wednesday night that I would give them each ten dollars in Monopoly money on Thursday morning. Each time that they did something that showed they did NOT have self control, they would have to bring me a dollar. Specifically, I told them, if they put anything in their mouths, ruined anything with their hands, or said anything with their mouths that was not True, Helpful, Necessary or Kind (I can never remember what the "I" word is in that "THINK" acronym!), that would mean a loss of a dollar.
At the end of the day, each of their Monopoly dollars could be exchanged for real money dollars. (This means Pete and I could potentially be out $40 on any particular Thursday... but I don't think that will happen anytime soon.)
A few of the kids had a few dollars still at the end of the day, and all of them are asking for us to do it again next week. I'm hoping this will have its intended effect, and that we'll ALL learn some more self control!!