You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

What your kids really need for success in school

How well your child performs in school is due to lots of factors — talent, family stability, motivation and organization. You’ll be attending meetings at school over the next few weeks where you’ll hear about the importance of making certain your child gets enough rest, eats a nutritional breakfast and exercises regularly.

I’ve been to dozens of these meetings over the years with my three kids, and have yet to hear one teacher (most of whom are dedicated and very caring professionals) discuss the single most important predictor of our kids’ success — self-control.

I don’t know when it became out of fashion to discuss self-discipline. It is the single most important factor that predicts your children’s school performance and later success in life. Even so, teachers and others seem reluctant to talk about this with parents. Here’s what I would tell parents if I were conducting an open-house this week.

1. Use the language of self-control. Your children’s success in my classroom depends a great deal on their ability to control their behavior and emotions. This means they will have to do some things they won’t like in the anticipation of greater rewards in the future. This will be hard for many of our students. I’ll help your children by using words such as self-control and self-discipline to emphasize the importance of controlling their behavior, rather than always relying on others to tell them what to do. I’d ask that you use the same language at home.

2. Stop-think-act. Children learn these self-discipline skills when they can control their impulses and reflect on the consequences of their behaviors before acting. I’ll be teaching your kids a simple three-step way to do this, called “Stop-Think-Act.” I’ll ask them to imagine a red stop sign in their mind before making any important decision, and then think about the various consequences of their choices. I’ll emphasize the importance of delayed gratification, encouraging them to postpone immediate gratification for the good feelings they will have tomorrow.

3. Praise self-control. I’ll be praising your child’s efforts and results. We’ll talk a lot about choices, and why doing what is right is more important than doing what feels good in the moment.

4. Manage the environment. I understand that children have varying degrees of self-control. I’ll work hard to progressively expose kids to more difficult situations as they are able to exert self-discipline in response to modest challenges.

Most students, even many high school kids, don’t have much self-control when placed in an environment that entices them with cell phones, computers and unrestricted time playing with friends. You are the expert on your child’s self-discipline. Please consider restricting such temptations at the beginning of our school year, but gradually reintroduce such privileges as your child demonstrates good management skills.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

What’s under your feet at the playground?
What’s under your feet at the playground?

The playground: a universal source of fun for children. It’s also a place to burn calories, make new friends and develop skills like how to judge risks and make decisions. A good playground challenges and engages children but is also designed to keep them safe. One of the best ways to lower the chances of serious injuries is to make sure there...
Nurse midwives help women beyond childbirth
Nurse midwives help women beyond childbirth

Stacy Hudepohl hopes to expand the perception that certified nurse midwives simply exist to help women through natural childbirth. “A midwife is very similar to a nurse practitioner in that we care for women throughout their entire lifespan,” said Ms. Hudepohl, a certified nurse midwife, who practices with the Center for Women’s Health...
Biking, blading and boarding? Protect yourself
Biking, blading and boarding? Protect yourself

With spring in full swing, you’re probably heading outside with your friends and family to spend time bicycling, in-line skating or skateboarding. But before you head outside, make sure you take a few safety precautions to avoid common problems that will land you in the ER. “Each year we see injuries associated with biking, in-line skating...
New ‘oldest person in world’ is 117, explains secret to longevity
New ‘oldest person in world’ is 117, explains secret to longevity

Violet Mosse-Brown of Jamaica is officially the oldest living person in the world, at 117 years of age. Mosse-Brown earned the title after the death of Emma Morano of Italy, who died earlier this week at 117 years, 137 days old. Mosse-Brown has a simple secret to her longevity. “Really and truly, when people ask what me eat and drink to live...
Police officer helps boy tie necktie in heartwarming viral photo
Police officer helps boy tie necktie in heartwarming viral photo

A police officer is going viral after teaching a boy how to tie a tie when he was “too embarrassed” to ask for help. X’zavier was at the Indiana Statehouse recently to receive the “Youth of the Year” award from his local Boys and Girls Club, according to Inside Edition. X’zavier was escorted to the ceremony...
More Stories