Friday, May 13, 2011

Working with Natural Tendencies

From "The Story of Charlotte Mason" on the formation of habits:

Almost anything may be made of a child by those who first get him into their hands. We find that we can work definitely towards the formation of character; that the habits of the good life, of the alert intelligence, which we take pains to form in the child, are, somehow, registered in the very substance of his brain; and that the habits of the child are, as it were, so many little hammers beating out by slow degrees the character of the man. Therefore we set ourselves to form a habit in the same matter-of-fact steady way that we set about teaching the multiplication table; expecting the things to be done and done with for life. But fitful efforts after a habit - say of tidiness, or of obedience - are of very little use, and are worrying to child and parents.


The list of habits to be established in your children can make habit training seem to be a daunting task. One thing that eases my mind is knowing that each child has natural tendencies. Some are negative and some positive. Jonathan is naturally neat and tidy. He likes to put things back in their place. (Oh how thankful I am for that tendency!) But he also likes to take his time in the tub while bathing. So I make sure that he continues his tidiness while working with him on dawdling. Noticing these places where work is needed for each individual child and then mapping out a plan (seek advice, especially from your spouse who is a necessary part of habit training) makes more sense to me than simply choosing habits from a list. I also don't have to remind myself to train in these areas because their sneaky faces show themselves often enough to bug me to remembrance. Over and over again - making sure the good habit is being done. Soon it will be established and will take more effort for them to choose the "old way" than for them to just do what they've been trained in. And what a better life your children will have because of the time you've taken though it is hard work right now.


5 comments:

Hi I'm Sarah said...

I like the quote, it is beautifully said. I have a tidy and dawadding son too. He is wonderful and it is so nice to know with habits set in place to redirct the dawddling he will continue to be wonderful as he grows up.

amy in peru said...

you're right! we can work with their natural bents! it is amazing isn't it that their strengths on the one hand are commonly their weaknesses on the other?

despite this, I still find a list helpful, since I have lots of children to keep track of, a list and taking notes on each child does wonders!

thanks for submitting this to the CM Blog Carnival!

phillipsgirl said...

Yes, notes and lists do help! Thank you for your comments!

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

"Therefore we set ourselves to form a habit in the same matter-of-fact steady way that we set about teaching the multiplication table; expecting the things to be done and done with for life."

I think that sums up my way of thinking about habits. I don't keep a list or nag about habits. It is just done in the "everyday", expecting that there will be progress bit by bit.

I enjoyed reading your entry and thanks so much for the kind comment on my blog, truly appreciated.

Nadene said...

Little by little, we establish the habit ... and it does take quite a long time! Isn't this the way the Lord deals with us too? Thanks for sharing.