Subscribe via RSS or e-mail      


Self-Control: So Simple, a Five-Year-Old Can Learn It

Handling negative emotions

A few weeks ago, I made lentil stew. My lentils were in a bag on a top shelf, so I reached up and tugged the bag out toward me–not realizing that the¬†twist tie had come undone. Lentils showered down on my kitchen. You’ll be happy to hear that I responded to the situation with a cheerful and accepting attitude.

No, that’s a lie. I cursed a blue streak and got really upset for about 30 seconds before recognizing that for the love of Pete, it was just some lentils and no reason to lose my cool. A little self-monitoring and self-talk brought me back in line, and the whole situation inspired me to try to catch unhelpful reactions earlier in the game.

In this department, a group of kindergartners through third graders who took part in a study called the Rochester Resilience Project may have the jump on me. These were kids who showed early signs of behavior problems in school, and they were given 25-minute lessons once a week for 14 weeks to help them become more aware of their own feelings (mindfulness) and to use thoughts to improve their moods when something went wrong (idea repair).

The results were impressive. Compared to the control group, in which kids didn’t get the training, trained kids had just over half as many discipline problems over the course of the study.

In other words, techniques like being aware of our own emotions and talking ourselves down from negative emotional extremes can be made so easy, a five-year-old can learn and apply them–and do so well enough to make a big difference in school life. If that’s the case, how much more easily are we adults likely to be able to learn and use these things if we’re willing to give them real and focused attention?

The study was documented in the article Reducing Classroom Problems By Teaching Kids Self-Control on the PsychCentral.com Web site.

Photo by Scott Vanderchijs

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



%d bloggers like this: