One of the important responsibilities of parenting is making sure children are physically cared for. Because of this, parents should be helping their children cultivate greater self-control. So suggests the findings from a 32-year study, which showed that children whose self-control improved were more likely to have better health.
There are many ways to improve self-control, but what the study suggests is that the effort could be rewarded with greater well-being.
Self-control allows children to cope with difficult situations. Rather than responding immediately to impulses, they are able to plan, examine alternative actions, and side step what they may later regret. This mental management has been considered an innate human ability. However, many are finding it to be much more, a spiritual faculty – a talent wisely exercisable when coupled with spiritual awareness.
Perhaps the underlying reason self-control can predict health is because evidence points to illness being more of a sensation of mind, than of body. The link between consciousness and physical health is being recognized. Studies show that if one loves more, they will be healthier; if they are forgiving, they can expect to feel physically better; if they just attend religious services, there is a proclivity to live longer. Thought moving, and most importantly, moving away from self or materiality, is causing healthful outcomes.
Stephen Covey, author and authority on leadership, once stated, “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage -- pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically -- to say 'no' to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes' burning inside.”
I’ve found that true in my own experience; that health follows when we exercise greater self-control.
My parents provided an environment that encouraged self-government, but with an additional dimension. They encouraged me and my siblings to draw on divine wisdom and intelligence and strength as we made decisions and lived our everyday lives. It helped us be much better at discerning what were healthy thoughts and actions, and what weren't.
I believe this was a major factor in why my two brothers and I never missed a single day of school. In fact, we all had perfect attendance 1st through 12th grades. Sure, we experienced minor aches and illness, but nothing lasted long. Our sister rarely missed a school day, as well.
We were typical kids and did typical childish things, yet smarter, healthier decisions and actions followed our maturing sense of life.
Research between consciousness and health has been conducted longer than most are aware, centuries in fact. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, the spiritual and Christian system of healing that my family has utilized as a first choice for the past 4 generations, performed experiments in this area in the late 1800s. As well, she saw the importance of childhood development and its link to mental and physical health. She wrote: "Children should obey their parents; insubordination is an evil, blighting the buddings of self-government. Parents should teach their children at the earliest possible period the truths of health and holiness. Children are more tractable than adults, and learn more readily to love the simple verities that will make them happy and good."
If more parents helped their children cultivate greater self-control, perhaps the findings from the 32-year study would ring true in their homes. What parent wouldn't want to give their child a chance for a better life with better health? And what is good for children might also be good for us all.
– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He is a legislative liaison for spirituality and Christian Science in Texas. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s syndicated columns originate at: healthy th(ink)ing