Character Chats

How do we stay disciplined?

Here at True Balance Karate we have a comprehensive character development program called True Character, and our word of the month this month is discipline.

I’m Master H, head instructor here at the studio as well as a special education teacher with two masters degrees in education.

I have developed our curriculum here to meet the needs of every student walking in the room, whether they’re 3 or 83. And this month we’re talking about discipline.

Last month we talked about goal setting, which is why I find discipline to be a very great follow-up to having set our goals last month.

Last week when we were talking about discipline, we talked about willpower, “I will” and “I won’t,” what are our “I” rules, and how all of those help with us getting to our goals and what we want to accomplish.

This week we are talking about how we stay disciplined and what happens when we do. What are the rewards? What are the consequences?

And how do we stay disciplined? How does that look? What happens when we stay focused?

Focus is key to discipline

Focus is one of those ways that we stay disciplined.

When we are practicing our focus, we’re not distracted by other things around us. We don’t decide to play video games. We don’t go on Facebook or any of the other social media that we might have on our phones. We don’t play Wordle. We don’t go and check the news or watch a Netflix show or any of that stuff.

We are focused. We know the task is that we need to accomplish and we work towards it. If that means we set a timer, that means we set a timer. If that means we set a deadline, that means we set a deadline.

A note to parents, as we’re teaching this with our kids, sometimes timers are very helpful. For example: “I need you to stay on this task for five minutes. We’re just going to clean for five minutes.”

Especially for our younger ones, if we can give them that kind of a timer or an end line, it helps to build their focus. So, as they grow, their focus should grow.

We cannot expect a five year old to be focused for 15 minutes, but we can expect a five year old to be focused for a smaller amount of time, especially with us encouraging them.

Then as that five year old becomes 10, and that 10 year old becomes 15, now we can expect a longer and longer amount of focus from them, which means they have learned how to become disciplined.

Rewards of discipline

As we go along, we want to work on how else do we stay disciplined?

When we are working hard, we are staying disciplined. Because remember, discipline is working before we’re playing. We are getting what we need to get accomplished to meet our goals so that then we can relax and play.

When we’re working hard, we’re showing our discipline. When we have our focus, like I just said, we’re showing our discipline.

When we have achieved our goals, that is the end result of our discipline. Those are our rewards. “I have achieved my goal. What’s my next goal?”

Making choices

Along the way, we have to embark on making good choices. Good choices are what helps us stay disciplined. And every day we have tons of choices to make.

Do I have chocolate cake for breakfast? Do I have eggs and fruit? If your goal is to eat more chocolate in your diet, then you have a choice to make. If your goal is to eat healthier, then you have a choice to make. You have choices every day.

Do I choose to do my homework first? Do I choose to do video games first? Do I choose to tackle the hard project at work, or go through the easy project first? There’s always choices to make.

How we choose affects our focus, which affects our discipline. And they all go together.

Understanding consequences

As we’re talking about this with our young kids, they especially understand it when you relate it to something that they can fully, fully feel and see.

For example, “You have a choice to make, do you want to brush your teeth or not brush your teeth?” Any child will tell you they need to brush their teeth. And when you ask them why, they will say, “Well, I’ll get cavities, they’ll have to do a filling. It’ll hurt. My teeth will fall out.” They’ll give you a whole list of consequences just from that one act of not brushing their teeth.

So, when they understand that their discipline of making sure they go through their bedtime routine, brushing their teeth, getting ready for bed, reading a story, plugging in electronics — whatever that bedtime routine is, whatever that morning routine is — they see that discipline and the consequence of not making that good choice and how it is affecting them.

Another way that they understand it is with homework. Again, they want to do well in school, but they’re going to come home and get on video games and then watch YouTube and then go run outside and play with their friends and then not do their homework.

There are consequences to those actions — natural ones like their grades going down, and other ones like suddenly finding themselves grounded and without electronics.

So, along the way they grow their discipline. They grow their focus. They grow their ability to make good choices. And what we want is to have kids and adults working towards setting goals, demonstrating that willpower, making those positive choices, so that we are all using our discipline in a positive way.

Thanks and we’ll see you on the mat.