In a culture that seems to value feelings over anything else, I fear many people are losing the ability to control themselves. When we turn on the TV or radio, how often are we confronted with angry outbursts, snarky or snotty commentary, and emotional “vomiting”? Many seem to think that “speaking your mind” is always a good thing in and of itself, but I would argue that while it is sometimes good to speak your mind, it can also be cruel and needlessly hurtful. It can actually damage our relationships with others if they think we are only concerned with unloading what is on our hearts or minds without regard for their feelings or needs.
At Elijah School we spend a good deal of time teaching self-monitoring skills. Not only are they necessary for good and healthy relationships, but research suggests that these skills are very good predictors of both academic and social success in life.
In Ephesians 4:15 Paul told us “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” We need to be honest with each other, but also with ourselves. We ask our students – BEFORE they speak – to ask themselves: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? If you can answer “yes” to all three statements, they should go ahead. We don’t want to limit their thinking or their fruitful speech, just provide appropriate outlets and guidelines.
In this interview, Laura Berk suggests some ways to help teach our children critical skills in self-discipline, handling intense emotions, and impulse control.