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Are You Sabotaging Your Kids' Good Habits?
Lindafay at Higher Up and Further In is blogging about an international move and the headaches it brings, while still maintaining sanity with her kids.

Her focus is on homeschooling, but something she wrote I think is applicable to all of us.

Here's the question: do you want your children to acquire good habits? Of course you do. Let's say you want them to study hard, or make their beds, or pick up their toys. Let's say you want them to stop watching so much television, or eat fruit more often.

Habits are hard work to develop, but once you have them, they're rewarding. We keep at habits because we enjoy them. Even good habits! We feel a psychological benefit from doing them.

What happens, though, when your darling children, with whom you have been working hard to develop these good habits, actually start to practice them? Here's the quotation that Lindafay uses from Charlotte Mason:

When the child has formed a habit, the mother thinks that continuing to act out of habit is as tedious as it was at first when the child was having to make a conscious effort to form the habit. So she admires his effort and starts to think that he deserves some relaxation from doing the habit, a sort of reward. So she lets him break the habit every now and then to give him a rest, and then he can continue on keeping the habit. What she doesn't realize is that, after a break, he isn't continuing on, he has to start all over, only now it's harder because he has both habits and must make a decision each time about which one to follow. The little relaxation she thought would be a treat turns out to form a new bad habit that now has to be broken. In fact, the mother's misguided sympathy is the one thing that makes it so hard to train children in good habits.
Now isn't that interesting? And isn't that true? So often when my kids are being especially good, and demonstrating maturity, I let them off the hook! I tell them to leave school for a bit, or don't worry about cleaning up anymore since you're already done such a great job. And I wreck the habit!

It's great to provide flexibility and positive reinforcement, but let's make sure we don't undermine ourselves.

Just something to think about...


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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