“People who excel at resisting temptation might have a secret strategy,” says a study reported in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences. “They deliberately avoid situations in which their self-control might fail.”
This research speaks directly to parents. When kids are young it’s important for parents to protect them from situations where they’ll be tempted to make a poor decision. A simple example is the child who is tempted to run out onto the road. Young children need the protection of their parents.
As children get older it’s not a matter of your lack of trust in them. It’s your awareness of what can happen – the possible dangers and temptations. Mom and dad, let your children know why you’re keeping them from potentially harmful situations. Take time to make them aware that in certain situations there could be the temptation to engage in risky conduct.
The opportunities to become involved in negatively tempting situations increase as your kids get older and have more freedom. Give your older children the necessary information and encourage them to make the decision for themselves. Take the time to share the possible consequences of failing to avoid the situation. Just forbidding your teenager might cause the situation to appear even more desirable.
By avoiding situations where self-control could fail, kids are able to steer clear of possible negative, costly consequences. Those consequences can run the gamut including but not limited to suspension from school or personal harm. Teaching young people to avoid those situations may protect them.
And on the positive side? Research has shown that self-control has been linked to happiness and success.
You can hear John and Kendra Smiley’s full interview on Austin Hill in the Morning below: