Starting, building and running an online business requires a lot of self-discipline. You’ve got to be able to sit yourself down in front of your laptop or PC most days of the week and do the things that are required to make your business a success. Place ads, email subscribers, research, write blogs, post on social media…these things do not happen on their own.

I know I am self-disciplined. The fact I stick with my exercise regimen 6 days a week for no other reason than to keep fit and functional is evidence. this made me question why? What was it about my upbringing that taught me to be self-disciplined? And doesn’t the fact we can learn self-discipline as children mean we can learn self-discipline as adults?

So I decided rather than just discuss the steps it takes to become self-disciplined, I’d look instead into how we instill self-discipline into a child. I figure we can use the same tactics to instill self-discipline into ourselves.

First thing I did was google “how to instill self-discipline in a child”. The first blog that came up listed these 8 essentials to ensure your child grows up to be a self-disciplined adult.

  1. Provide Structure.
  2. Educate Your Child About Healthy Choices.
  3. Implement Appropriate Consequences.
  4. Shape Behavior One Step at a Time.
  5. Praise Good Behavior.
  6. Teach Problem-Solving Skills.
  7. Model Self-Discipline.
  8. Offer Incentives.

I reckon we can use these 8 self-discipline teaching principles to teach ourselves to become self-disciplined as well.



1. Provide Structure

Giving children a similar schedule each day is important to develop self-discipline. For as long as I can remember Mum always made sure I ate breakfast and made my bed every morning. Chores were done at certain times. Bedtime was also a set time every night no matter what.

I even remember a particular camping trip to Kangaroo Island. I was about 9 years of age. Bedtime was 19:30 pm. One particular night we were camping in a national park. My parents put me to bed at 19:30 pm on the dot as per standard.

Soon after they put me to bed some possums came down from the trees. My parents were actually feeding them by hand in the light of a torch. I remember wanting to come out to see and feed the possums too but my parents would not let me because it was “bedtime”. (Nb: both my parents actually regret not allowing me to see the possums now).

Even though as a child I may not have appreciated all the structure given to me, as an adult I am forever grateful because it helped to install the self-discipline I now rely on to run my online business (not to mention get other things done in my life too).

They say if you consider yourself to have no self-discipline it simply means you do not have a schedule, a schedule which provides structure. If you want to achieve a desired result with anything in life, schedule it! Use a diary of some sort and schedule what you need to do each day into it. Set an alarm of some kind if need be as well to remind yourself of your scheduled task and then “just do it”


2. Educate Your Child About Healthy Choices

An example I read on this topic was to have your children do their homework as soon as they get home from school so that they can then reward themselves afterwards by having some fun time.

I remember doing homework straight after getting home from primary school – thankfully in those days, there was not too much homework to do. Once completed, I was able to hang out with the other kids who lived down our small street. We’d roller skate or ride our bikes up and down the street or we’d hang out in one of our backyards and play games until our parents called us in for dinner.

Ah, the good ‘ol days.

As adults, I think it is important to prioritize the tasks that require self-discipline to achieve to be able to then reward ourselves with some fun or R & R afterwards. The fun, or R & R, act as positive reinforcement after doing something we may not have been motivated to start.

For any necessary tasks or chores that need doing around the house, I tend to do them in the morning. Not only do I then have the afternoon to do as I please, but I also have the rest of the day to appreciate the instant gratification many tasks and chores provide – such as a clean house or a beautiful garden.

They say using role play with children to play out problems they may face is a great way to enable them to make healthy choices. A young child might have to deal with being teased or having a toy taken from them. An older child might have to deal with peer pressure. Using role play helps to prepare them for dealing with these scenarios in an appropriate manner.

It’s inevitable, there will be days where it seems as though the Universe is doing all it can to prevent us from doing that thing we need to do. I think the Universe does test us sometimes to find out how bad we really desire something in our lives.

As far as developing self-discipline goes, it is good to think about barriers we have faced, or may face, to then think of ways we could prevent these scenarios from ever holding us back again. It’s good to think of these scenarios to then think of ways to deal with them in a way that allows you to do what you need to do.

I remember as a personal trainer one of the most common scenarios clients faced was having to attend social functions where food and alcohol were involved. We’d end up chatting about healthy choices that would not interfere with their weight loss goals. Things like ordering a side dish of garden salad or steamed veg rather than bread or chips. It was all about being prepared with the right knowledge.


3. Implement Appropriate Consequences

For a child, we may need to allow them to experience the natural consequences of a particular action or have them experience logical consequences such as no TV time.

Back in my day, I’d be sent to my room for a couple of hours or I’d be grounded for at least a week. I had no brothers or sisters to keep me company and there were no mobile phones or social media. In fact, when I was a kid there was no internet at all. It was just me, my toys and after the age of around 12, my TV. (maybe having to hang out by myself served as a positive considering the only company I get when running my online marketing business is me, myself and I).

There are consequences to everything we do, be them positive or negative. As adults, it’s about thinking of the negative consequences of not doing that thing we need to do that will help keep us disciplined enough to do it. Myself personally,  thinking of the negative consequences is a strong driving force for keeping myself disciplined.


4. Shape Behaviour One Step At A Time

Parents cannot expect a child to remember everything he or she needs to do in the morning when they are getting ready for pre-school. Creating reminders for them, such as a picture chart, will help them to remember what they need to do so they can become more independent and not rely on having to be told.

This brings me back to the importance of scheduling things. As far as my online business schedule goes, I use a diary or calendar to input tasks that need doing once a week or less. As far as daily tasks go, I like to write a list the night before with the “must do today” items on top. I like physically writing things on my calendar, diary or daily schedule but you might prefer entering things into a digital calendar with alarm notifications. Whatever type of schedule works best I say.


5. Praise Good Behaviour

No explanation needed as far as kids go. When they are good, give ‘em praise. Even go as far as rewarding them. By doing this we increase the likelihood of them repeating the good behaviour. Positive reinforcement is a great motivator.

I had to pause for a while here and think about how I was rewarded as a child. The sad thing is, I don’t really remember ever being rewarded as such. Actually, no I lie. When I was good, Mum would buy me treats or a little gift – but not all the time. In my day, I think the biggest reward for doing the right thing was not being “told off” or punished.

I do remember having to earn my pocket money though, so you could say I was rewarded with money if I did my chores. Once I turned a certain age, it was decided by my parents that they would provide me with the material things I needed, like socks and jocks, but anything I wanted, that wasn’t something I needed, I had to save for and purchase myself. Earning pocket money was the only way I could do this. The act of having to save money to buy the things I wanted would have to be rated as a great way to instil self-discipline into a child – not to mention the lessons of work ethic and the value of money (but that’s a different blog).

If praising good behaviour and rewarding children is good for teaching self-discipline, then why wouldn’t it also be good for us? A little self-praise and self-reward when we achieve certain milestones has gotta be a good thing. We need positive reinforcement too. Why do anything if it doesn’t provide pleasure. A dog isn’t going to learn to do tricks if it is not given its treat afterwards. So learn to reward yourself to maintain your self-discipline. For example, do “X” 7 days a week for 2 weeks then treat yourself to a massage or a relaxing bath. Achieve “Y” and purchase that top you love or a $25 bottle of red instead of the $15 dollar one……I’m sure you can think of ways to reward yourself. It’s just a matter of making sure to do it.

6. Teach Problem Solving

When I child is not maintaining the self-discipline required to achieve a certain task it’s important to figure out why. Experts recommend asking the child to provide possible solutions which might help them remain self-disciplined enough to achieve their set task.

I liken this to asking friends and family for their opinions on possible solutions to your self-disciplinary issues.

You can also search the net for solutions as well – there are various forums and plenty of blogs that discuss different ways to become self-disciplined. No one idea works for everyone. It takes just one different opinion to provide you with the solution that works best for you.

There are obvious things you can do for children when they are not achieving things they need to achieve. If a child takes too much time in the morning getting dressed, then have them pull out clothes they want to wear on any given day the night before. More complex problems will require trial and error.

Same goes for us.

As an ex-personal trainer, a common piece of advice I’d give clients who found it hard to get up in the morning to train was to pack everything they needed the night before.

If there is a task you are having a hard time sticking with, take a trial and error approach to find a way you can stick with it. If one tactic doesn’t work, try something else. Once again, friends, family, and even the internet can help you discover tactics you may have never thought of yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t give up (you wouldn’t give up on your own child). Persist, persist, persist.


7. Model Self Discipline

Now, this has to be a big one. I’m a huge believer in monkey see monkey do. I know many of my self-disciplinary traits have come from observing my parents self-discipline.

My mum did her house cleaning once a week – every Saturday. Guess who does their house cleaning once a week too, and on a Saturday morning. Having a clean house at the start of a weekend enables me to relax on a Saturday night and have a few drinks with my partner.

My ‘ol man used to get out the lawn mower every Wednesday evening after work to mow the lawn. Both my parents ensured to do certain tasks on a very regular basis to keep the job easy. Allow things to get out of hand and simple chores can become full day jobs.

Guess who else now operates like this regarding many of her chores. I’m all for doing small things regularly rather than having to do a huge job eventually- gee, I might have to make that an actual quote:


“Do The Small Things Regularly Rather Than Do A Huge Job Eventually”


For children to become self-disciplined, parents need to model good self-discipline.

How can we as adults have self-discipline modelled to us?  By finding a good mentor or role model we can look up to. A sporting star, a self-development expert, an amazing musician or a person who has achieved a milestone that you resonate with. Whoever you admire, stick a photo of them up somewhere, subscribe to their Youtube channel, like them on Facebook or Instagram so you receive their posts.

Who’s my role model? When it comes to online marketing, I’d have to say Stu’s the man. With regards to self-discipline, I’d have to say I had great ones as a child.


8. Offer Incentives.

There wouldn’t be many kids who haven’t experienced the general line of, “If you do this, you’ll get that”. You could say that offering an incentive is very much like praising and rewarding good behaviour except it is given to act as a motivator rather than given to praise good behaviour instigated by the child.

What can you give yourself that will motivate you to perform in a self-disciplined manner? It needs to be greater than any reward you give yourself along the way. I set myself the incentive of opening up a $60 bottle of Rockford’s Black Sparkling Shiraz when I made my first online sale – and oh boy, did I enjoy that (yum).

Having short-term goals with assigned incentives can be a great way to motivate your self to stay self-disciplined.


Final Words:

By applying the 8 principles above to children, they will grow into self-disciplined adults. If these 8 principles instil self-discipline into children then they will instil self-discipline into adults who have not had self-discipline instilled by their parents.

I remember hearing a motivational speaker talk about self-discipline. He told a story about a lady who raised her hand after he’d asked his audience if there was anyone out there who did not believe they were self-disciplined. He then asked this lady who raised her hand the question, “If I said I was going to give you a million dollars to rock up at a certain meeting point at 5 am in the morning, would you attend?” The lady replied by saying, “I’d be there at 4:49 am”. The speaker then told her that yes, she did have self-discipline.

Whether you need the self-discipline to complete certain tasks, or you need it to achieve an important goal, know that you can teach yourself to be self-disciplined especially if the reason you are wanting to develop self-discipline is important enough to you.