The Power of Habit

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man… every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.” –Charlotte Mason

At the end of the day do you ever feel like you’ve spent the day nagging and telling your children over and over what to do? We’ve all had those days from time to time.

Have you been extra busy, maybe even distracted? Has your schedule gotten lost under piles of papers or is it simply hanging and neglected on the refrigerator door? And if you don’t feel scattered enough, surprise, with the holidays fast approaching you’re bound to be ready for the funny farm. Trust me I speak from experience.

Our children are not maliciously avoiding their work nor are they trying to go against what you of ask of them. Their behavior is simply a reflection of the habits that have been established.

There’s no need to stress out, condemn yourself or your children. Face the situation head on and see it for what it really is, an opportunity to grow. How do you grow past this you ask? What you want is to establish habits that support flow and ease between you and your children. Habits can be positive or negative. Because habits are so powerful, it should be every parent’s main focus to encourage the positive habits and eliminate the negative habits. Don’t let the busyness of the world around you distract you or tell you otherwise. Forming good habits in place of bad habits require dedication but, the benefits will far outweigh the sacrifice.

As parents we all want to raise children who are polite, orderly, punctual, generous and obedient. These are simply results of habits. What habits have you and your children formed?

We must perform a self-evaluation and ask if we are using our time wisely. Remember, we’re constantly modeling for children. The odds are really good that if they’re dilly-dallying you likely are too. Take inventory of yourself and you’ll know if you’re part of the problem.

Let’s get on with the habit so you and your children can start practicing habits to create the results you desire. The habit of paying close attention is established with short lessons of 15-20 minutes in length for younger children and increasing with age.

Explain to your child the workflow for his greatest achievement begins with reading, writing and math. It’s through this knowledge that empowers us to do what we really want to do in life. When a child has his assignments and a system that supports him, he is able to progress. Children who dilly-dally are bored and have no direction.

In AIE we systematize the process. Through the use of their own study book, the child uses assignment clarity and scheduling that respects him as a whole, supporting the complete family. It’s when we are learning and growing we are our happiest because it is natural to our being. Help them see the consequences of procrastination – a very bad habit in childhood that must be changed before adulthood. Here are a few examples:

  1. Not unloading the dishwasher first in the morning causes dirty dishes to back up leaving them to inherit dish duty for the entire day.
  2. Not picking up their dirty clothes and missing out when the laundry runs, results in running out of clean clothes to wear when it’s time to dress for going out or simply clean pajamas for the night.
  3. Not completing their academics today results in additional work over the weekend when they would rather have free time.

The law of cause and effect must be learned early in life. If not life will continue to deliver opportunities to learn the lesson over and over again until the lesson is learned. Not putting gas in the car leaves you stranded on the road. Not balancing your checkbook can leave you overdrawn. Think it through and ask yourself, if this is not done, what will naturally happen as the result?

Consider their academic time as character time. Even though they’re learning their reading, writing and math there’s so much more occurring; attention, focus, critical thinking and stick-to-itiveness.

When my children are at their desks in the morning, I am too. I have my Morning Workbook out and I’m working. They’re learning it is a part of everyday living. Younger children are sitting near so we can see each other. If a child is getting distracted I look to see the cause first then talk with the child about his current responsibilities. This habit has to be practiced daily. Remember, it takes a whole month to form a habit and that’s how long you have to focus on these habits being practiced daily in order to start seeing results and create the change you wish to see. Stick to your schedule and skip going out if it’s going to interrupt your work. Habits will empower your life and afford you to live as you desire. Invest well in the beginning, practice diligently and they will pay dividends for a life time.

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”  –John F. Kennedy

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