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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Raising Kids: It’s Habit-Forming

Human beings are creatures of habit, in fact the majority of everything that we do every minute of every day is habit.

Getting up early or late.

Having a healthy, balanced breakfast or a pot of coffee.

Getting the laundry done or surfing the net.

Writing blog posts or washing the dishes.


Seriously, though, think about all the things you do each day without having to think out every little aspect of what you are doing while you are doing it.

Like brushing your teeth.

Or walking down the street.

Or using the toilet.

Or washing your hands when they are dirty.

Can you imagine how exhausting it would be to have to think about every little step of everything we do every time we do it? Habitual actions are so ingrained into our subconscious that they seem like part of our very nature. We just do it.

And every time we do it, it becomes more a part of what we do. Our brains form neural connections that strengthen the habit each and every time we do it.

And that goes for the good, the bad, and even the ugly habits we’ve latched onto.

Like the little boy who continually picks his nose and wipes it on the wall, the bed sheets, his jeans, where ever he happens to be.

Or the toddler who hits whenever she gets mad.

When we say, “Oh, he/she will grow out of it,” we are really doing our child a disservice. The first couple of times it happens, it might be an experiment or imitating what an older sibling does, but without the proper guidance to a more productive action, it very quickly becomes a bad habit. And the more ingrained it becomes in the child’s nature, the harder it is to stop doing it, and the harder it is to grow out of it.

When it comes to good habits, like brushing her teeth after every meal or or taking her lunch dishes to the sink and rinsing them so the food doesn’t get stuck on, the habit-forming brain works to our advantage.

The more ingrained it becomes in her nature to do these positive actions, the harder it is for her to not do them. She simply does the right thing without even thinking about it. What a load off her mind (and yours)!

Raising children is more than just caring for their physical needs or even giving them spiritual instruction. It’s also about helping them to form good habits and discouraging them from forming bad habits. Automatically doing the little things right frees their minds to think about the more important things and helps pave the way towards doing the right thing when it really counts.

And it makes everyday life just a little easier, something none of us mind.

Looking for a little light summer reading? I’ve been reading Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason’s Home Education, and Charlotte has a lot to say about instilling the kiddos with good habits. This is a project we’ll be working on with our kiddos this summer, and it’s something us adults can benefit from, too.

What good habits would you like to work on with your children this summer?

You might also like:

Good Habits Lead to Virtue

Little Did I Know

On Parenting

Rules of the House

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  1. Well said!

    And I love Charlotte Mason. I try to reread her every summer in preparation for the new homeschool year.

  2. I find myself saying, "Yes!" every other paragraph when I'm reading Charlotte Mason. Many of the things she has to say I did figure out on my own through the school of hard knocks. And others I'm still learning. It would have been easier if I had read her work before I had kids, lol!

  3. sweet blessings to you and may you have a great summer,


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