Saturday, March 3, 2012

Getting Started Laying Down the Rails

I did not write this post; it is not about my own family.  I thought this might inspire some of you, so I requested permission to reprint this since the author did not at the time have a blog of her own. This post is reprinted with permission from a Year 0 post by Sarah in AR.
 One day, I was referring to a parenting book for advice b/c I'd been noticing my children's behaviour and obedience weren't what I thought they should be. As I was reading, they included the scripture Prov 29:15, "a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." Somehow, that verse pricked my heart, as I realized how often I was telling my kids "Just go play while I get my housework done," and then feeling guilty b/c there never seemed enough time left over to work on forming habits or teaching them how to do helpful things around the house..... Well, here was the answer! I was "leaving them to themselves" too often, while *I* tried to do everything myself! As I looked at the answer in the Word, I saw that I should just keep them alongside me while I did my chores, which provided the most suitable time to teach them those things I previously didn't have time for! So from then on, I rearranged my day to include them in helping me every morning, as we clear the dishes from breakfast, empty the dishwasher,  and one wipes the table and sweeps under it, while the other helps me wash the dishes. I'm also working on getting them in the habit of making their beds, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and fixing their hair after we finish the kitchen (when they are older, they will do that before breakfast, but for now I don't want them getting food all over their clean clothes first thing in the morning lol!).  We also pray together first thing every day, as I thought it would be a valuable habit to serve them well for the rest of their lives!

Of course, the very most important habit to start with, if it isn't already there, is the habit of obedience. This is most easily taught if it is started when they are a baby, big enough to get into things they oughtn't. You tell them "no," and then you must follow through in not allowing them to do whatever it is, every. single. time. When starting new habits, you must choose what you feel is the most urgent to start with, then have a little talk with them (at a non-emotional time, as in, when they are getting in trouble, you don't give them a lecture about how expectations will be different from now on). You get them when they are happy, and just let them know what it is you want to work on, what will be expected, and that you have confidence in them to do it. Then you work on it with them, only giving gentle reminders to help them stay on track. It usually takes several weeks of effort to get a new habit down, and will need occasional work thereafter to be sure it stays in place. After you feel they have the first habit established, then you can add another one of the next most importance, and so on. It does take effort on your part to make sure the new habit is followed through every time, or it won't fall into place, so you may want to give yourself a little more time on the first ones, as you make a habit of habit-training!