1. Charlotte Mason encouraged us moms to concentrate on forming one habit at a time, keeping watch over those habits already formed. Soon it will become your habit to cultivate good habits in your children.
2. Be diligent to deal with offenses immediately. The more times a child repeats an action or progression of thought, the more it will become ingrained as a habit. We must seek to stop our children’s minds from running in those same old paths and lay down the new path of the good habit.
3. Motivate your child with living examples of people who have displayed the good habit you’re trying to instill. For example, read the story of George Washington and the cherry tree if you want to motivate your child toward the habit of truthfulness. The Bible is full of great examples of habits like obedience, respecting others, prayer, and meditating on God’s Word.
4. Use natural consequences as much as possible to reinforce the results of the child’s choices. For example, if the child is trying to learn the habit of full attention to his lessons, set a time limit in which he must finish his lesson correctly. If he finishes early, let him have those extra minutes to do whatever he would like before the next lesson. If you think about it, natural consequences are a reflection of real life. If we, moms, have set aside half a day to clean house and we work hard and get it done an hour early, we are rewarded with an hour to do as we please. Natural consequences can be very effective. The only problem is that it is often harder to think of an appropriate natural consequence, so many of us take the easy way out and resort to that old stand-by: nagging. Which brings us to #5 . . .
5. Seek to motivate your child with expectant encouragement rather than nagging. Hebrews 10:24 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11 remind us to consider how we can encourage each other to do good and to build each other up. None of us enjoy being nagged, and we soon learn to ignore it or tune it out. Encouragement will go a long way toward keeping your relationship with your child intact while cultivating good habits.
Next time let’s talk about how discipline brings freedom!