Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gentle Reminders to Children when Habit Training

A Reader asks:

A Reader asks:
Can you, or have you already, give us some specific ways to instill good habits without nagging and constant reminding? Or does such a thing exist? I'm thinking of things like putting things back where they go, dirty clothes INSIDE the clothes hamper, etc. The child I'm dealing with is 7 1/2.

Books often make child training sound so tidy and systematic, but I feel it is more complex and although we can take the principles and apply them, we need wisdom to implement them for each child. I think a seven year old often needs gentle reminders. However, there sometimes comes a point when Mom needs to assess the situation (applying wisdom) and determine if the child has slipped into a bad habit.

Recently, I realized that my daughters were ALL becoming careless with their daily duties often saying, "Oh, I forgot." So my husband and I decided that rather than chiding them with exasperation (which is what I was doing) we would just have them stop whatever they were doing when we realized they hadn't done the chore, and make them do it immediately. They have not liked missing playtime with their friends, or having to get out of bed when falling asleep to complete a missing chore or missing eating dinner with the family. Sometimes I have purposely waited until an important event was happening before pointing out the undone chore so that my child would learn the lesson quicker. It is helping, slowly but surely.

If I determine that my child is just being disobedient, then I've made them do the chore and added another on top of it keeping the consequence fitting the offense. For example, if the clothing is not in the hamper but on the floor, then the child will put the clothing in the hamper and then clean the bathroom for making it untidy or fold a batch of clothing alone.

one step at a time...


  1. lindafay,

    Thanks for the suggestions. Since we have started our summer holiday I have seen a laxing of chores getting done at a reasonable hour. I am going to try your advice and hopefully it will get through to them.

    Harmony Art Mom

  2. Anonymous13.6.07


    Thank you for the reality of habit formation. It is truly an ongoing process. I remember a few years ago when my children were 7 and 11 I became exasperated that they hadn't gotten "it" yet. The Lord was so gracious to point out that I haven't gotten "it" yet. He patiently works with us and we must patiently work and pray with and for our children.

    Wishing you a great evening,
    Tarheel Mama

  3. Betty13.6.07

    I've just been reading CM series and Laying Down the Rails (a summary of CM's thoughts on different habits). This is so timely. I get so exasperated at the children. I know that this renders what I say very ineffective. I think that in the back of my mind, I am surprised that the children forget or disobey. I forget that though they are persons, they too have a sin nature and are forgetful.

    I pray that the Lord use this summer to instill in ME the habit of responding calmly to my children as I try to instill other good habits in them.

    Grace & Peace,

  4. Carrie13.6.07

    Thanks Lindafay!
    I really needed this reminder today!

    By the way, our snails had many, many, many babies. The shells are clear when they are born. It's very cool. I wish I had a digital camera to post it.

  5. We use the "such-and-such must be done before lunch", and "this-and-that must be done before supper" system.

    The children are never refused a meal, but they are not welcome to sit down with us and eat unless their morning and afternoon chores are finished. Needless to say, my always-hungry kids don't forget their chores very often ;-)

    Natural consequences really so work best.

  6. Great info. I often get frustrated and fail to follow through. But it is so worth it to follow through.

  7. Anonymous13.6.07

    Bad grammar habits are hard to break, also. When my children would say something like, "He don't want to go," I would make them stop and say, "He doesn't want to go" five times. It worked. I did not just correct the one word, it was the flow of the sentence that needed to be ingrained in their minds.


  8. Momma14.6.07

    I, too, get a sleeping child up to complete a forgotten chore. It doesn't need repeated often, that's for sure!


  9. linda,
    thank you for sharing what you're doing. :)
    always practical. i appreciate you!

  10. Hi Linda,
    I love this post. I heartily agree that "Books often make child training sound so tidy and systematic". I wonder what is wrong with me sometimes...they make it sound simple.

    I appreciate your ideas and will certainly implent them.

    My daughter has started an awful habit - chewing her hair! I braid it so it is out of her way but strands keep falling out and she ends up chewing them. I feel as though I am telling her to take her hair out of her mouth 100 times a day! I can't think of what else to do.

    Hope you are having a good day,
    P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog - did you end up baking?

  11. Margie16.6.07

    I so appreciate your blog and your encouragement on CM and AmblesideOnline. This post is particularly well timed for me.

    I seem to be constantly nagging as well. With a 7.5 year old and 11.5 year old I feel that they should at some point have already gotten it. It is a good reminder to me the above comment that God extends me grace as a slow learner with habits as well.

    Our summer routine will be including some focused habit training. First on the list of things to do is to declutter so that we have a good starting point.

    By the way, some time ago, you mentioned not being able to comment back on my Xanga blog. Xanga now offers the option of allowing non-Xanga members to comment so I look forward to further communication.

    Blessings to you and your family!