Category Archives: habit training

anything regarding cultivating habits a la charlotte mason


Okay, my 5 year old bites his nail something terrible.  I mean, his nails are halfway down the nail bed.  Of course his dad’s nails look just about the same so that does explain a bit.  I’ve been thinking about just how to deal with this.  I’ve tried to ignore it, but he constantly has his fingers in his mouth.  I’ve been debating as to whether or not we should tackle this as part of our habit study.  Part of me wants to make sure I’m not just being irritable and overbearing.  But, I’ve come to the conclusion that something must be done!

For starters, if he continues, it will be harder and harder to break the habit.  Also, it’s unsanitary and just plain bad manners to always be chewing on your fingers.  I also know, as his mom, one day he might appreciate nicer looking nails!

So, what I’ve done so far is we’ve talked about why he shouldn’t be chewing his nails in a hygiene, cleanliness wort of way.  We’ve talked about tackling it as part of our making new habits (and breaking old ones).  I  have noticed just how hard it is for him to stop fidgeting so I think he’s just really trying to find some place to keep his hands.  It’s almost like a nervous energy or something.  I ordered some of that terrible tasting stuff to put on nails so we’ll see how that works.  He just does it so mindlessly, I think he needs an extra reminder not to do it.  I’m also going to do some sort of reward chart with stars.  Maybe if he goes a day without biting his nails he can get a star.  Of course that’s totally on the honors system.  The other idea I found somewhere is anytime he gets his nails trimmed he gets a reward.

I’ve been going over and over trying to decide what our next habit ought to be.  Big Boy’s nail biting has gotten progressively worse so I think he sort of made the decision for us!  Check out our last habit that we worked on, cleanliness.

Do you bite your nails?  Any tips on how to break the habit?


Developing a habit: Part 2

So here we are again, talking about habits!  I left off at #5 so lets just jump in there!

#6.  Find fictional or real examples to emulate.  One major consideration with all this cultivating of habits is that we can’t leave out the rest of a person, focusing on doing this one thing.  This is just one small part of our day.  In going about our day, however, if we see a book character, for instance, doing something similar to what you are learning, be quick to point it out!  Also, be sure to model for your children the habit you’re trying to instill.

#7. Have high expectations and be hopeful.  I don’t mean unrealistic expectations, but how often do we think, “oh, he can’t do XYZ because he’s 3 (or whatever age).”  We can’t expect a 3 year old to always know what the truth is (at least my 3 year old gets caught in fantasy-land now and then!), but when he is being untruthful to hide something for himself or his brother – I don’t think it’s cute!  I don’t say, “Oh, he’s just being 3”.  I explain why he can’t lie to mom!  One way I convey this is I tell him that I know that he is a big boy and can tell the truth.  I thank him for his honesty when he just fesses up to something right away.

#8. A good habit is worth the hard work.  I have been really diligent lately in getting up before the kids wake up.  I set my alarm every night and for the past week I’ve been faithfully getting out of bed at 6 a.m.  This has also caused me to change up my evening routine – I’m going to bed much earlier!  I can already see the difference.  I have more energy and peace just from having my morning quiet time.  It is hard work sometimes to work on any habit.  Remember to keep the end in mind and that it will all be worth it!

#9 Work by degrees.  Potty training doesn’t happen overnight.  In fact, occasionally my 3 year old, who has been potty trained for nearly a year, still needs my help.  Whatever the habit, we need to start out small.  Take, for example, how we’ve worked on brushing teeth.   The first step was me brushing their teeth for them, over and over.  I had to remind them (or drag them sometimes) to the bathroom to brush their teeth.  The next step was letting them have a turn when I was done.  Now we are to the point where I put the toothpaste on when I’m in there and they just go in and brush (sometimes without being asked!).  We can’t expect that our kids will go from doing nothing to doing everything overnight.

I’ve tried to keep all of these points in mind while we’ve been working on cleanliness and I plan on moving to another habit soon.  I think young children are so flexible and excited to do new things that it really doesn’t take much to instill a new habit.

What habits or routines are you trying to teach your children?  What ways are you doing so?

Developing a Habit the Charlotte Mason Way: Part 1

I like lists.  I like straight forward, how-to’s, that explain step-by-step a process.  In some ways this can be a problem (not everything come with a handy manual!).  I’ve pulled from a few different places (they can be found on my “Resources” page) and created a nice, clean list of how to approach habit training.  Of course with kids things never go nearly as smoothly as a list, but its a start.

#1.  Decide which habit to work on.  In my case, cleanliness.  Clearly define what is meant by that and set a realistic  goal.   Expecting your 3 year old to clean up toys is realistic.  Expecting your 3 year old to color code and alphabetize isn’t too realistic.

Continue reading Developing a Habit the Charlotte Mason Way: Part 1

Home {dis}Organization

For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with organization – not so much dealing with clutter than with figuring out where to put my various belongings.  I have tried everything to no avail.  It drives My Husband crazy!  My main issue is that I get distracted and I forget things until the Very-Last-Minute-When-I-Must-Find-That-Thing-NOW!  Seriously, I can be opening my brand new something or other and I get so excited about that brand new thingy, I just drop the packaging.  Or I need the scissors and after I use them and I no longer need them…Well, you get the idea.  My house can be a downright disaster area as I put it.

Continue reading Home {dis}Organization

Habit Training Update

So here we are in the midst of week 2 of my family’s journey of training up these habits.   For this month (and possibly next as well) we are working on cleanliness.  I had a longer list of things I’d like to see my boys doing, but I shortened it to save on frustration.

We’ve been working on getting my boys to do two things: making their bed every morning and brushing their teeth twice a day.  My hope is that they’d do both of these unprompted by mom!  It sounds terrible to say that my kids haven’t been consistent in brushing their teeth because really, I haven’t been consistent in making them.  We’d almost always get it done once a day, but not usually twice.

Here is what we’ve done so far:  First, we watched a fun movie on taking care of our teeth.  I then talked about what our new morning routine would be – waking up,  making our beds and brushing our teeth.  I also wrote a chart with a dry erase marker on our bathroom mirror.  They get a star for each time they brush their teeth.  At the end of the week they get a little surprise!

The first week was really about being consistent amid little voices saying, “I don’t want to brush my teeth.”  Having the chart really helped me to remember to stay on track.  Now we are to the point that if, for some reason, teeth didn’t get brushed, the kids mention it.  So, there’s progress.   Since we’re working on cleanliness, I have a few other things I want to add in the coming weeks.  Its with shame that I’m admitting my boys rarely wash up before eating.  Big Boy, who is 5, will wash up with just a quick reminder (I usually don’t remember!).  However, Peek-A-Boo, who is 3, likes being dirty and would rather not wash up.

So there we are, consider yourself updated!