Not to be confused with my recent post “The Discipline of Kindness”, this post is about the kindness we show when we provide discipline to our kids, and to be self-disciplined as well. I was reminded of both as I recently witnessed a situation where they were clearly lacking.
Condoning poor behavior isn’t doing anyone favors - for the kids who don’t know how to conduct themselves in the world at large, or others who are subjected to their poor behaviors as adults. It’s ironic that I had just researched the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, after hearing about it from someone else. A study was conducted with 4-6 year olds, and then followed through their progression to young adulthood. In short, it was found that kids who could delay gratification (in other words, had self-control) for the most part were more successful later in life when it came to achieving goals, in school and their lives in general.
I relate the two subjects because I believe there is a large portion of our society that doesn’t know the value of “No”. It doesn’t seem to be taught very much anymore. It certainly isn’t popular when we use it, in most situations. There was a time not long ago when one was deemed kind who set limits. I think we need to begin practicing it again. Not out of mean-ness, but out of kindness – for ourselves and generations to come.
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Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. ~Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Insecurity of Freedom: Essays on Human Existence, 1967
Watch The Marshmallow Experiment