This relation of habit to human life––as the rails on which it runs to a locomotive––is perhaps the most suggestive and helpful to the educator; for just as it is on the whole easier for the locomotive to pursue its way on the rails than to take a disastrous run off them, so it is easier for the child to follow lines of habit carefully laid down than to run off these lines at his peril.–Charlotte Mason
I think Habit formation should be a very important part of child training. I truly believe that God created us to be creatures of habit because having a good habit just makes things so much easier for us. Once something is a habit, you don’t even have to think about it, you just do “it”. Isn’t that a gift because if we had to think about every single action we took, we would be beyond worn out. The only thing that hurts us as creatures of habit is when WE allow ourselves to form bad habits. As parents we should help our children form good HABITS such as; attention, obedience, cleanliness, perfect execution, remembering. These habits will benefit them in every area of their life, every day of their life.
I want to leave you with words on habit formation that I think you will find inspiring and interesting.
The quote below is from Karen Andreola’s book called A Charlotte Mason Companion
For those who decide to embark upon the career of habit formation, remember:-One day at a time-Practice good actions weekends, too-Nip the weed in the bud because formation is more efficiently accomplished than reformationBut be encouraged with this wise old saying “One habit overcometh another”. You may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks, but GOD is able to make all things new again. Isn’t this a great blessing?
Habit the Instrument by which Parents Work.––’Habit is TEN natures!’ If I could but make others see with my eyes how much this saying should mean to the educator! How habit, in the hands of the mother, is as his wheel to the potter, his knife to the carver––the instrument by means of which she turns out the design she has already conceived in her brain. Observe, the material is there to begin with; his wheel will not enable the potter to produce a porcelain cup out of course clay; but the instrument is as necessary as the material or the design. It is unpleasant to speak of one’s self, but if the reader will allow me, I should like to run over the steps by which I have been brought to look upon habit as the means whereby the parent may make almost anything he chooses of his child. That which has become the dominant idea of one person’s life, if it be launched suddenly at another, conveys no very great depth or weight of meaning to the second person––he wants to get at it by degrees, to see the steps by which the other has travelled. Therefore, I shall venture to show how I arrived at my present position, which is, from one of the three possible points of view––The formation of habits is education, and Education is the formation of habits
Divine Grace works on the Lines of Human Effort.––In looking for a solution of this problem, I do not undervalue the Divine grace––far otherwise; but we do not always make enough of the fact that Divine grace is exerted on the lines of enlightened human effort; that the parent, for instance, who takes the trouble to understand what he is about in educating his child, deserves, and assuredly gets, support from above; and that Rebecca, let us say, had no right to bring up her son to be ”thou worm, Jacob,” in the trust that Divine grace would, speaking reverently, pull him through. Being a pious man, the son of pious parents, he was pulled through, but his days, he complains at the end, were “few and evil.”
The Trust of Parents must not be Supine.–– And indeed this is what too many Christian parents expect: they let a child grow free as the wild bramble, putting forth unchecked whatever is in him––thorn, coarse flower, insipid fruit,––trusting, they will tell you, that the grace of God will prune and dig and prop the wayward branches lying prone. And their trust is not always misplaced; but the poor man endures anguish, is torn asunder in the process of recovery which his parents might have spared him had they trained the early shoots which should develop by-and-by into the character of their child.
Direction of Lines of Habit.––This relation of habit to human life––as the rails on which it runs to a locomotive––is perhaps the most suggestive and helpful to the educator; for just as it is on the whole easier for the locomotive to pursue its way on the rails than to take a disastrous run off them, so it is easier for the child to follow lines of habit carefully laid down than to run off these lines at his peril. It follows that this business of laying down lines towards the unexplored country of the child’s future is a very serious and responsible one for the parent. It rests with him to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure; and, along these tracks, to lay down lines so invitingly smooth and easy that the little traveller is going upon them at full speed without stopping to consider whether or no he chooses to go that way.
Habit a Delight in itself.––Except for this one drawback, the forming of habits in the children is no laborious task, for the reward goes hand in hand with the labour; so much so, that it is like the laying out of a penny with the certainty of the immediate return of a pound. For a habit is a delight in itself; poor human nature is conscious of the ease that it is to repeat the doing of anything without effort; and, therefore, the formation of a habit, the gradually lessening sense of effort in a given act, is pleasurable. This is one of the rocks that mothers sometimes split upon: they lose sight of the fact that a habit, even a good habit, becomes a real pleasure; and when the child has really formed the habit of doing a certain thing, his mother imagines that the effort is as great to him as at first, that it is virtue in him to go on making this effort, and that he deserves, by way of reward, a little relaxation––she will let him break through the new habit a few times, and then go on again. But it is not going on; it is beginning again, and beginning in the face of obstacles. The ‘little relaxation’ she allowed her child meant the forming of another contrary habit, which must be overcome before the child gets back to where he was before. As a matter of fact, this misguided sympathy on the part of mothers is the one thing that makes it a laborious undertaking to train a child in good habits; for it is the nature of the child to take to habits as kindly as the infant takes to his mother’s milk.
The above Quotes are from the original Vol 1 of Charlotte Mason’s Education Series (Here is Vol 1 in modern language) If your interested in reading more, I urge you to read part 111 and part 1v of Vol 1, both parts are on Habit Formation.
To find out about Charlotte Mason and the Charlotte Mason Home School Method go HERE
Laying down the Rails by Sonya Shafer is a great book to assist you in Habit Formation
Smooth and Easy Days is a FREE e-book on Habit Formation by Sonya Shafer
I will be starting a series of post on Habit Formation. Each week I will highlight a Habit that would be very beneficial for your children to have. I will start this series next week and I will start with the Habit of Attention!