Mindfulness and Self-Control

Mindfulness is the intentional practice of recognizing and managing uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, and emotions through the use of evidence-based tools and strategies such as breathing and maintaining focus on the present moment. Mindfulness also functions as a proactive discipline strategy that helps students develop self-control. Self-control is the ability to recognize and regulate one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in order to be successful in the moment and remain on a successful trajectory (Fly Five, 2021).

Students’ ability to exhibit self-control helps them to manage their behavior and set the classroom up for effective learning and teaching to take place. Students that experience long-term stress can especially benefit from strengthening their self-control competence, since stress has the ability to impact students’ development. Mindfulness helps students to develop the skills necessary to regulate and maintain control of their emotions and overcome the harmful effects of stress. There are three forms of self-control. Read the chart below to discover what they are and why they matter.

Each of the different forms of self-control helps students contribute to an orderly and positive classroom with few distractions or disruptions due to misbehavior and prepares students to face and work through challenges. 

Using Mindfulness to Control Impulses

From time to time, we all experience strong emotions. Maybe someone cut you off in traffic, or someone said something you disagree with on social media. When we experience strong emotions, we feel an increased sense of urgency that can lead us to acting without thinking. When this happens, it is known as the “amygdala hijack,” and it impairs one’s ability to exhibit self-control (Curci et al., 2013). Mindful practices help us develop the ability to manage these strong emotions, which is essential for remaining in control of impulses. Regularly practicing mindfulness reduces the amount of activity we experience in the amygdala and decreases our risk of experiencing the “amygdala hijack” that pushes us to react to our impulses (Creswell et al., 2007). When students practice mindfulness as a proactive discipline strategy, they can experience greater self-awareness and fewer negative impacts of stress.