October Fruit of the Spirit: Self Control

October Fruit of the Spirit:   SELF-CONTROL

Self-control is the discipline of delaying impulse or gratification for a greater purpose or cause.  This fruit of the spirit helps us enjoy things in a proper, balanced way.  We use self-control to guide us to make good decisions in specific circumstances.   When we exercise self-control, we are saying “no” for the sake of a bigger and better “yes.”  It’s a trade for something in the here and now for something greater in the future!

Self-control is something learned and practiced at a very early age and for the rest of our lives. In order to develop self-control, we must first be honest with ourselves about behaviors we need to work on (yes, at every age).  Trouble sitting still during quiet times?  Being kind to someone on the playground who you don’t care for?   Each one of us is different.  Some of us are tempted by too much screen time, by overeating, others by greed or by gossip.  By being aware of what tempts us and our children at every stage of life, we can take our struggles to God.  Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and we have self-control when we “keep in step” with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). He empowers us to overcome any temptation and promises us something far better in return.

Here are a few ideas for practicing and teaching self-control at home:

Pre-school/kindergarten

Be ready for self-control in public places by practicing at home. Pretend your living room is a church, library or school, and shake out your sillies before entering. Then take a deep breath, enter the room and sit down quietly. For an age-appropriate length of time, listen to a story or Bible lesson. Work out a signal to use if your child gets restless when he should be calm. For example: Tap his arm twice with one finger, and touch your chin when he looks at you. Smile at him as you take a deep, calming breath together.

Elementary School

Before dinner, offer your child one piece of bite size candy from a big bowl. Explain that he/she has a choice:  to either choose to eat the single candy now or choose to wait until after dinner and enjoy a full bowl of candy.  Help him/her choose to wait and discuss if he/she felt it was worth the wait.  There are two sides to our “self”.  Everyone has a side that hates to be patient and doesn’t want to think about later.   But throughout the bible, God tells us that sometimes we have to wait. He knows that is hard for us, but He promises it will be worth it (Isaiah 30:18). Have your child think of times when self-control is difficult but worth the effort.

Middle School

Go further into the discussion of temptation and making good decisions. Over several days, have you and your tween keep separate logs of a few examples of tempting ads you see online, watch on TV or notice in-stores etc.  Examples could be junk food, new movies, clothing or anything else that’s enticing. 

When it’s time to compare notes, discuss how giving in to temptations now might cause us to give up something better in the future. Brainstorm examples such as spending money on candy instead of saving it for something more meaningful. Explain how self-control allows us to say “no” to something in the moment in favor of a greater “yes” in the future.

Take it a step further and talk about how easy it is to be tempted and role-play the part of a friend who lacks self-control — someone who gossips, cheats or watches movies that he knows he shouldn’t.  Talk to your child about how they will react when they see this behavior in others and more importantly, to come up with a plan to help them avoid the temptation to give in or take part themselves.  Even though temptation is all around us, God will help us exercise self-control.

Once children understand the need for self-control, it's easier to train them in this fruit of the spirit.  When teaching your children about this topic, be sure to focus on what they gain, not what they lose. As Catholics, we practice self-control because we know, love and choose Jesus.

Key Points

  • Self-control is the discipline of delaying impulse or gratification for a greater purpose.
  • The ultimate goal for practicing self-control is to choose Christ over the world.
  • The power to overcome temptation and practice self-control comes from God’s Spirit.

Family Memory Verse

Proverbs 25:28
“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”

Scripture Study

For a closer look at what the Bible says about self-control, read these passages:

  • Galatians 5:16-25
  • Titus 2:11-14
  • 1 Peter 1:13-15
  • 1 John 2:15-17

Source:  https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/got-self-control/


October Saint Highlight

St Teresa of Avila - Feast day is October 15  

A tremendous example of a saint filled with the fruit of the spirit: SELF-CONTROL.  Teresa grew up in a very wealthy home with all the worldly comforts and pleasures at her disposal.  Although her love for the saints and Jesus was central to her life as a little girl, Teresa began to change as a teen and into adulthood.  She loved reading foolish romantic novels, dressing up to show off her exceptional beauty and using her natural charm to gain popularity by all.  Unexpectedly, Teresa grew extremely ill and after her miraculously recovered she read a book about the great St. Jerome. Immediately, she made up her mind to become a bride of Christ and entered the Carmelite Order. As a nun, Teresa often found it hard to pray. She continued to be struck by bouts of poor health as if God was trying to get her attention. Teresa wasted time every day in long, foolish conversations instead of praying or doing her tasks.  She found herself taken by temptation and without self-control. But one day, in front of a picture of Jesus, she felt great sorrow that she did not love God more. She started then to live for Jesus alone, no matter what sacrifice had to be made. In return for her love, the Lord gave St. Teresa the gift of hearing him speak to her. She learned to pray in an incredible way that she later became known of the mother of prayer. St. Teresa of Avila is known for having opened sixteen new Carmelite convents. She prayed with great love, over-came temptations with tremendous self-control and worked hard at her daily tasks.

 

Recipe Idea for a Family Feast Day Celebration for St Teresa of Avila

Yemas de Santa Teresa - St. Teresa's Egg Yolks 

 

Other October Feast Days and activities to share with your family: