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7 Habits to Teach Children

Children, education, school, habits, life skills

This is an unusual post for me, especially since I’m not a mother with children to raise. I’m an aunt. As an aunt… do I really need to teach my nephews anything? (Except, maybe, how to get what they want from their grandparents and what their mother didn’t like when she was a kid?) My two nephews have very good parents, so they don’t really need me for life instruction. (And besides, the joy of being an aunt is that I get to indulge them and then send them home, right?)

When they slept over recently, however, I started thinking about the things that are good for children to know – and so for all of us to know – in order to live life well. Of course, there are the big things: the wonder of God, our Creator, Who loves us; the essential need in life to love; and the meaning of love itself. But I’m talking about simple and practical things — habits — that we should all be taught in childhood. And are never too old to learn.

In no particular order:

  1. Wash your face in the morning. It’s good to start each day with a fresh, clean outlook.
  2. Say please and thank you. Through the art of politeness, we can learn to take nothing for granted, to be responsive as well as responsible, and to have gratitude. Gratitude is the key to joy.
  3. Ask “Can I help?” This habit should be the response to every witnessed moment or story of difficulty, struggle, hardship, aggravation, or sorrow. Sometimes, we won’t have the skill set needed to fix the problem. Sometimes, the problem can’t be fixed. But there is always something that we can do: pray; make sure that we are providing a good example; and be supportive to those in need, sometimes just by listening sympathetically.
  4. Eat a healthy breakfast. Other people could write an entire blog post on this one habit, but not me. I just know how important it is to take care of your body so that you can have the length and strength of years to do God’s will. This doesn’t mean that you have to down some weird green shake or a bowl of twigs. Don’t forget to start your day by giving your body some protein and remember a bit of fruit or vegetable. (Yes, vegetable. Leftover chicken stirfry or a grilled cheese sandwich with a glass of orange juice makes more sense for breakfast than a doughnut or a pop tart.)
  5. Brush your teeth before you go to bed. Keep your chewers and smile healthy while practicing a bedtime routine to ease you into restorative sleep.
  6. Put things where they belong. An important organizational skill which prevents time wasted in confusion. But it also applies more broadly to life: having the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can — the wisdom to put things where they belong.
  7. Look a person in the eye when you say to that person, “Please” or “Thank you” or “Can I help?” Also maintain eye contact, heart contact, soul contact when telling a person, “I’m sorry… I forgive you… I love you.”

Children, window, study

Happy back to school, everyone!

© 2018 Christina Chase

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

8 thoughts on “7 Habits to Teach Children Leave a comment

  1. 4. For years, or so it seemed, our son all but lived off chocolate breakfast cereal. He is now 6ft 3in and quite adventurous with his food. Some children grow up.
    6. My parents, my grandmother, my seminary superiors, my wife: through most of my 69 years have nagged and nudged me to be tidy. It just does not work. The gene is lacking. Time gets wasted, I know, but … one criticism leveled at the man I am writing about when he was in seminary was that his room was untidy. Yet he was a most open hearted and open minded saint. Another priest said to me, an untidy room will never make a bishop. But Arthur Hughes did!


    • I’m smiling broadly at your points! Yes, thankfully, small bad habits do not break us! Keeping things painstakingly neat and tidy is a kind of bad habit, actually — everything in its place: loving people Is far more important than labeling your paperwork! And just so you know, I consider a slice of apple pie (there’s your fruit) and a glass of milk (there’s your protein) to be a wonderful breakfast. This child hasn’t exactly grown up 😀


    • Thankfully, we are never too old to learn — or too young, as we all start in utero!

      I clicked on the article and read it. I’d never heard of Jordan Peterson, but I subscribed to the archetypal images of Carl Jung for a while. Now that I’ve graduated to a higher way of understanding, perhaps I am strong enough to take a look at him. The subject of “identity politics” is rather interesting. Thanks for sharing.
      And enjoy LA! (Is that possible? Asked the diehard New Englander.) I pray you have a lovely visit with your family!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Uh-oh, I hope that essay wasn’t disconcerting. I probably spend way too much time thinking about our current social and political conflicts. Just wanted you to hear that even university professors believe in the importance of traditional “rules” that transcend the changing intellectual fashions.


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