The Christmas story tells us of the wise men who followed the star. One gift we can give our family this Christmas is the opportunity to develop wisdom and self-control.
Wisdom and self-control go hand in hand. Self-control stops us reacting to things on impulse. It makes us pause and weigh up our options, looking at consequences. Wisdom is being able to come up with those options and consequences. It’s more than just knowing things.
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If you want to help your kids become wiser and more self-controlled, then give these things a go:
1. Start planning. There’s a line running from being impulsive to over planning. We want to help our kids find a happy middle ground where they have plans but can be flexible. Teach them how to think ahead and work out the steps to get there. Whether it’s just going to the city for a movie, or they’re mapping out their first career.
2. Hang out with wise people. Wisdom is something that develops through experience; we pick it up when we see others using it.
3. Let kids do things the hard way. Thinking skills take time to develop. Kids need opportunities to gather experiences to form the foundation of their adult wisdom. How can they know what the easy way is if they haven’t ever taken the hard one?
4. Grow a kind inner voice. We all tend to feel more in control when we feel confident. Confidence is a cloak that we need to put on, even when we aren’t feeling it. Keeping that inner voice as a cheerleader, not a critic, is key.
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5. Create a balanced life. A good life needs a healthy mix of rest, work and play. It’s that simple!
6. Stop stress taking up residence. We need to deal with stress in our families. And our teenagers are just as exposed to it as we are. Stress is one of those things that is fine for a short period of time, but can’t go on for months. We lose our motivation and commitment when we’re just in survival mode.
7. Talk about thinking. Developing wisdom isn’t about filling our kids’ heads with knowledge. They can always go and find out information they need, but having the thinking skills to process it is what really matters. I’m going to be looking this topic more in 2017.
8. Learn to be an observer. Wisdom also comes from taking in the subtle information around us. The cues from people we are talking to. Changes in our environment. Wise people quietly assess things before they speak.
“A person without self control is like a house with it’s doors and windows knocked out.” – Hebrew proverb
9. Let people get it wrong sometimes. The problem with self-control is that you can have too much of a good thing. It’s like building a muscle, and too much will end up with a strain. People with wisdom don’t get caught up on getting things right. They think deeper to improve the odds first.
10. Recognise the signs of panic. Wise people know their bodies well. They pick up the signals that they’re feeling overwhelmed and do something about it. It’s a lesson that takes time but can set our kids up to succeed.
Christmas has always been a favourite time of the year for me. Life slows down and we catch up with friends and family in decent chunks of time, not snatched moments on the run.
One gift I want to give to my kids in the coming year is a greater understanding of their own strengths. The wisdom they already have and the depths of their self-control.
Article supplied with thanks to Rachel Doherty from Tweens 2 Teen. Rachel helps those living and working with young people, through supervision, coaching, speaking and consulting.