Giving Kids the Keys for Self-Discipline

Self-Discipline and Kids~


Practice requires positive thinking and coping skills which lead to self-discipline and good outcomes.

In my last blog I wrote about kids’ risky behavior and suggested that we all take responsibility for the societal norms that makes it hard for them to be self-disciplined.

In answer to that problem, I want to continue with a solution that consists of two skills, or keys, for achieving the self-discipline that leads to success. These may seem puerile at first blush. Although there are a lot of things that factor into these two skills, you’ll soon see how these two are an umbrella over all of what it takes to acquire self-discipline.

Two Keys for Self-Discipline

  1. POSITIVE THINKING SKILLS: It’s impossible to succeed at anything if we have thoughts of defeat before we even start. Yet science tells us 80% of our thoughts are negative and therefore self-defeating. Self-discipline starts with positive thinking.

Both we and our kids need to know what neuroscience is showing us about the brain, the effects of our thoughts on our lives, and what control we do have over our thoughts. We need to acknowledge the results that can be expected from engaging in thoughts and activities that support us. You can learn how this is done and how it works—according to neuroscientists—on my HELP STARTS HERE page of this website.

  1. COPING SKILLS: Once we are armed with positive thoughts, we have confidence and are inspired to explore and try new, productive things. Trying new, productive things give us opportunities to hone our coping skills. Even just choosing one thing over another reflects our ability to cope.

teaching-kids-to-be-positiveWhen choosing new things to engage in, it is imperative that kids recognize what is safe and productive behavior and what is not. Through the filter of positive thinking, kids can make good choices.

For example, say your teen has a big test she needs to study for tonight, but there is the most important party of the year tonight as well.

Negative thinking goes like this: “I can’t miss this party because I want to see the boy of my dreams and not have him end up going steady with Janet instead of me.”

Positive thinking goes like this: “It’s okay to miss the party because if Johnny likes me best that is what will show up in the long run, even if Janet does lure him in at the party. And there will always be another party. So this time, I will study for the test and have a better chance of getting into a good college and having the career I really want. That way I will be a better catch for any guy I might like, perhaps someone even better than Johnny. And I will have more opportunities with Johnny in the meantime anyway, so this is how I will really win in this situation.”

As we learn to do new things that serve us, we learn the valuable lesson of coping when the going gets tough, when the results are less than stellar, when we can’t have all that we want or when we receive less admiration and praise than we think we deserve. We also learn how to make good decisions toward what is most positive for us in the long run. Kids need to be reminded of this. Learning to make choices based on going after desired positive life outcomes provide opportunities for kids to acquire coping skills, rather than the instant gratification today’s kids have grown accustomed to.

Lack of Self-Discipline Leads to Lack of Success

With positive thinking skills being the foundation for acquiring coping skills and self-discipline, we need to understand we naturally think negatively about 80% more often than positive thinking. This is one of those secrets most of us don’t grow up knowing, and therefore most of us struggle with negativity. And we pass that negative thinking down to our kids and students. You can read about the science behind this negative thinking phenomenon by clicking HERE.

Knowing of our natural propensity for negative thinking should inspire, or at least motivate us to learn what neuroscientists know about how to think positively in a way that is known to work.

Learning how to think positively regardless of circumstances is extremely important because negative thinking is the perfect excuse to use alcohol, drugs, engage in pornography, and even worse addictions. We need to understand, live by, and most importantly, teach our kids the benefits of engaging in positive thinking.

Not just any old way of positive thinking works. As an example, no amount of repeating affirmations that we don’t believe is going set us on a positive path toward good life outcomes.


When kids are rewarded just for showing up, they learn they don’t have to try.

Those fake awards we gave our kids I wrote about in the previous blog is the perfect example of creating low self-esteem while promoting a lot of empty posturing and a lack of preparation for adulthood. Kids have far better BS meters than adults, and those awards didn’t make them feel better about themselves. They know what they deserve and what they don’t when it comes to recognition of their choices and achievements. Getting undeserved awards leads to lack of trying and low self-esteem.

Positive Thinking Inspires The Self-Discipline to Learn New Things

Without guidance, it can take a long time to figure out how to make good choices that lead to success. Most of us understand the value of discussing positive thinking with the kids in our lives. We can help them master positive thinking skills and coping skills in a simple, easy manner described HERE. When they make these skills a habit, they acquire the self-discipline that leads to successful life outcomes.

Positive thinking makes a difference in our own lives, in the lives of everyone who comes in contact with us, and most importantly, in our kids’ lives. Positive thinking cultivates persistence, which is why positive thinking is necessary for coping. It leads to making good choices, trying new things and learning how to cope. I hope this article has inspired you to learn how to think positively, because positive thinking is the basis for all success.

Best regards,

Rori O.

I write and teach how neuroscientists discovered what happens in the brain when thinking positively, and provide a technique I came up with based on those studies.

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  1. phpprt19

    Many children today are too dependent on their parents. They can not decide for themselves anymore. Everything is done for them. I also think that is a major problem in the growth towards independence. Nice initiative. With your program to get them back self-discipline which is also a great incentive for self-confidence

    • Rori O'Hara

      Thanks for pointing that out! I didn’t say so in the article, but I do agree that self-discipline certainly promotes self-confidence.

  2. Alex

    This is a great article, and a Very important one! I would like to share a personal though on this..

    Nowadays parents who have only one kid and not more than one, actually will give more attention to it, and that will have an impact to his future character.

    Also in many countries and because of the “worldwide economical crisis” many youth continue to stay with their parents, and not stepping out in the real world, to face the facts and to accomplish their dreams no matter how hard it is..

    So when things get better and able to “fly” away from their parents, the percentage of succeeding in their life is low.

    And last, generally the “system” and what we have learned from our parents and school, not really provides us the “tools” to create an awesome productive character as individuals..and all that reflects to negative thinking;)

  3. This teaching is so needed for our children these days. My daughters are in college now and I have seen the changes in parenting and in schools for the worse over the years. These skills you are writing about should be implemented again for the sake of our country really. How did we go from satisfaction for a job well done, to shielding children from the ‘sting’ of not being ‘the best’? Are you going to take your programs to the school system?

    • Hi Linda,
      Yes, I do intend to start speaking at schools soon. I am experienced in teaching adult CEO classes (a course I developed), and since have trained to speak to youth and young adults. Thanks for your vote of confidence on my material!

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