Kairos Journal has a great little ditty on self-discipline by Issac Watts. Watts is know most a great hymn writer (for greats like:When I Survey the Wondrous Cross) , but he was also quite the scholar and thinker. One of my oldest books is an original Logic text written by Watts given to me by a good friend in Virginia. If you are in ministry and have not subscribed to Kairos Journal, it is a great resource.
The following is from His Discourse on the Education of Children and Youth, published in 1752:
The Importance of Self-Discipline—Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748)
Children should be instructed in the art of self-government. They should be taught, as far as possible, to govern their thoughts; to use their will to be determined by the light of their understandings, and not by headstrong and foolish humour;1 they should learn to keep the lower powers of nature under the command of their reason; they should be instructed to regulate their senses, their imagination, their appetites, and their passions . . .
Many children have such wild fluttering fancies, that they will not be easily confined to fix upon one object for any considerable time; every flying feather, every motion of any person or thing that is near them, every sound, or noise, or shadow, calls them away from their duty. When they should employ their eyes on their book or their work, they will be gazing at every thing besides their task; they must rise often to the window to see what passes abroad, when their business lies within . . .
Children should be also instructed to govern their inclinations and wishes, and to determine their wills and their choice of things, not by humour and wild fancy, but by the dictates of reason. Some persons, even in their mature years, can give no other account why they choose and determine to do this or that, but because they have a fancy for it, and they will do it. I will, because I will, serves instead of all other reasons. And in the same manner they manage their refusal or dislike of any thing. I hate to do this thing; I will not go to this place, nor do that work; I am resolved against it; and all from mere humour. This is a conduct very unbecoming a reasonable creature; and this folly should be corrected betimes, in our early parts of life, since God has given us understanding and reason to be the guide of our resolutions, and to direct our choice and all our actions . . .
The passions or affections are the last thing which I shall mention: these appear very early in children to want a regulation and government. They love and hate too rashly, and with too much vehemence; they grieve and rejoice too violently, and on the sudden, and that for mere trifles; their hopes and fear, their desires and their aversions, and presently raised to too high a pitch, and upon very slight and insufficient grounds. It becomes a wise parent to watch over these young emotions of their souls, and put in a word of prudent caution as often as they observe these irregularities . . . Shew them how unreasonable and unmanly a thing it is to take fire at every little provocation: how honourable and glorious to forgive an injury . . .
[M]en can hardly ever get so successful a victory over themselves, unless they begin when they are children
Here is the link to the article