Creatures of Habit: The Good News and the Bad News

Like with so much of life, the fact that human beings are creatures of habit is a double-edged sword. My wish to weigh less is outweighed by my habit to munch on the same things at the same times everyday. If I am not thinking, I have a precise order in which I grab a handful of peanuts, snack on 5 Stax chips, eat the Costco trail mix. This habit keeps me at my same net weight within a pound or two despite my wish that I lose the excess pounds.

People trying to quit smoking find that they have trained themselves to have a cigarette after a meal, to light up when stepping out of the car, etc. Name the addiction regardless of how benign, and we can document clearly the pattern that keeps us in bondage.

However, there are other things we do that are positive and the fact that we created a habit for an edifying activity makes it easier to stay on target. For me, once I found my nightly niche for my quiet time, I have been in the Word daily for over a decade! Now it is impossible to skip even when circumstances fill an evening and force the Bible reading into the midnight hour.

How about you? Can you recognize this positive and negative about habits? They are hard to break — and that’s the good news for what we are trying to do with our children here at Veritas.

The good news is that habits are easy to make! No, really, I’m serious. I remember years ago someone told me that it takes 28 days to make a habit. That is 28 days of doing the same thing, at the same time, every single day. Consistency, repetitiveness, daily. Those are the key. Once your child practices his/her musical instrument the same time, in the same place, every day, your child will find that it is natural to pick up the instrument or sit at the piano bench and begin to practice.

Or maybe it is fifteen minutes a day writing out one’s recitation at the same time each day. Perhaps it is popping the grammar jingles into the CD player on the way to school (or uploading it to your smartphone so you can bluetooth the jingles each day). Or reviewing math facts over lunch each day. Whatever routine you develop, you are building in a positive habit that keeps your child moving forward every day.

You may not realize this, but this can prove to be one of the most valuable things you do in training your children. Training them to be productive every day can pay them back with big dividends later in life.

I have always wished to write a book and I have 3 or 4 great concepts rolling around in my head. But I lack the discipline and training to have the habit of daily writing that is needed to start and finish a book. My Mom’s adoption of the principles in Dr. Spock’s Baby Book left me without great habits to carry me forward toward these goals.

Bless your children with positive routines. They may chafe against the training, but they will thank you later. Your partner in the struggle, Christopher

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