Coaching your kids- Part IV: Discipline

Key takeaways:

  • Discipline is essential for self-management;
  • Disciplines are different from habits;
  • Following disciplines requires training;
  • After kids have grown up, they can self-discipline and achieve goals with ease.

Based on my years of coaching experience, many issues we see in our lives can all boil down to one essential character: discipline. For adults, we follow disciplines that we impose on ourselves for different purposes. These disciplines make us waking up early at 6am to train for a marathon. These disciplines could sustain us over two years studying part time in numerous evenings for a Masters degree while joggling with works and kids. These disciplines keep us working on a big project over an extended period of time, so we could see our dream coming true.

Success is always built on efforts and disciplines. So, if you want your kids to be successful when they grow up, then train their ability to follow (self) disciplines when they are young. This is gonna be the best gift you can give your children (and they will thank you in the future!).

Martial arts guide kids to follow disciplines and is a great exercise too!

The ability to persistently follow disciplines is not born naturally. Being a parent, how many times are you frustrated by messy floors of your kid’s bedroom because things are everywhere? You must have had arguments with your kids over homework; kids all want to play video games and not to do homework. If you have teenagers at home, then you must come across these challenges often. You may even doubt whether you are a good parent because kids don’t listen?

Don’t be confused between ‘disciplines’ and ‘habits’. A habit is something that you do without thinking. For example, adding sugar to your coffee, or switch on TV when sitting on a sofa at home. A discipline, on the other hand, tends to be in the form of ‘rules’ and people are often trained to follow these disciplines for a particular purpose.

Well, I always tell my kids that I have about 10 years to train them and shape them into real humans before they are “released” to the wild. It’s ideal that this training could start around the age of 10 when a child can understand an important concept: causes and effects. So, when your children grow up, they can impose disciplines on themselves for a particular purpose.

Tony Stark, according to Marvel is a genius with strong disciplines so he can party hard and work hard.

After years of observing and educating university students, the most important disciple a successful student has, according to my view, is time management.

Time management is not a skill; instead, it’s the ability to self-discipline. A typical university student will have a few courses running at the same time with multiple assignments and assessments due during a short period of time. Sounds familiar? ^_^ The ability to allocate sufficient time for study and not too much time for fun stuff relies on the student’s discipline; self discipline.

Time management requires self-disciplines. (photo from Pexels)

I had a student a couple of years ago. She was constantly late for my 10-am lecture and usually popped in the lecture room around 11am during the short break. I noticed her because she always sat in the front row! I never check student attendance, so I didn’t mind. Out of curiosity, I asked her one day why she was constantly late (I thought she must be a ‘night-party animal’!). To my surprise, she said she worked as a check-in agent at a local airport and she always did morning shifts which started at 4am! By doing morning shifts, she could still attend lectures, although she would be late. (Wow… OMG…)

The discipline to wake up at 3am and go to work is so essential to her work and study life. She knew that and she could do that due to self-discipline. I was amazed and I thought “this kid is going to be someone soon!“. Indeed, she picked up a great job opportunity with an airline soon after graduation, and has been performing very well, according to her manager (who was my former student, too).

Catching an early flight in the morning is hard. Man the check-in desk in early morning at 4am is even harder! (Photo by Matthew Turner on

Waking up at 6am every morning can be a habit, but waking up at 3am for work while studying is not a habit. It’s a discipline that is so strong that this ability can drive a person to success in the future. What can be harder than waking up at 3am, go to work. Then, after work, go to university to study, while trying to engage in social activities. Even I found it hard!

Train your kids on disciplines. For example, finish daily homework first before watching TV and play video games. Plan the week ahead on Sunday nights and discipline self on leisure activities and study times. Choose healthy foods as much as you can, when you have a choice. And, go to gym on a regular basis. For teenagers, impose on no-drung and no drink driving disciplines.

Say No to something or someone often requires self-discipline (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

In particular, these two disciplines will save their lives when they grow up. They won’t hop on a friend’s car at 1am knowing the driver has been drinking during the night. They won’t try drugs in a birthday party knowing that drugs can harm them. Disciplines can help them say No and stay safe, because they are trained to do so. And, training on disciplines pays off in the future.

Dr. C. Richard Wu @

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