Kids are pros at falling into bad habits but — with some guidance from you — they can just as easily adopt these six habits that will serve them well throughout childhood and into adulthood.
The test of time
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Charlotte Mason dedicated her life to educating British children. Her methods have truly stood the test of time and continue to be very popular with educators today. In her Original Homeschooling Series, Mason communicates the importance of developing good habits in children, saying, "The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children." How’s that for motivation?
Helping your children form good habits can be a challenge, but if you stay the course, doing so will become a habit of your own. Once you have a goal in mind (a particular habit), focus on it daily until your child has demonstrated an acceptable level of mastery before moving on to the next habit. Your expectations should, to some degree, be contingent upon your child’s age and stage of development.
A solid foundation
Bad habits are easy to recognize and even easier to adopt, but sometimes good habits are so scarce that they’re difficult to identify. If you need some inspiration, consider how the following habits would enhance your household:
Kids are messy and they’ll often stay messy if they’re not taught to, simply put, clean themselves. Until they’ve formed the habit, details need to be discussed such as keeping fingernails trimmed and clean.
While cleanliness refers to physical attributes, neatness refers to your child’s surroundings. If you don’t want to be making your teenager’s bed or constantly picking up after your tween, you need to communicate your expectations and teach them the habit of neatness.
A lot of kids today are buried in their smartphones or computer screens and hardly give thought to those around them. There was a time when children were expected to show respect to the adults in their lives, to look them in the eye, address them by a proper title and shake hands with purpose. These days, most adults are (sadly) shocked when a child demonstrates this habit.
For those who are habitually late, a lack of punctuality is often packaged as an endearing idiosyncrasy — but it’s often still annoying. Teaching punctuality is another way of teaching the importance of selflessness. Our schedules don’t exist in a vacuum so when we’re late, we can start a chain reaction that impacts others.
When Charlotte Mason referred to "smooth and easy days," there’s a good chance she was thinking about the habit of obedience. Few things make a parent’s job harder than a lack of obedience, and few habits are more difficult to instill.
Situational awareness is important from a safety perspective as well as a creativity perspective. Teaching your kids to take note of their surroundings will reduce their risk of being targeted by criminals and foster a healthy imagination and appreciation for the beauty of the world around them.
Read more about kids and habits
Teaching good sleep habits
Teaching your children to be healthy eaters
Quiz: Are you teaching your kids healthy eating habits?