I read this book of Charlotte Mason's writing about habits, compiled by Deborah Taylor-Hough, and in general liked it, but only certain parts and not others. I liked part two in this series (The Outdoor Life of Children) much more. I was generally inspired and confirmed in my intuition of habit training myself and then children, the earlier the better. We could all use a little more self-discipline, right? I especially liked the why that Charlotte Mason explains behind obedience to parents and developing good habits. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
"A mother whose final question is, 'What will people say? What will people think? How will it look?' and the children grow up with habits of seeming, and not of being; they are content to appear well-dressed, well-mannered, and well intentioned to outsiders, with very little effort after beauty, order, and goodness at home, and in each other's eyes."
"Not the child, immature of will, feeble in moral power, unused to the weapons of the spiritual warfare. He depends on his parents; it rests with them to initiate the thoughts he shall think, the desires he shall cherish, the feelings he shall allow. Only to initiate; no more is permitted to them; but from this initiation will result the habits of thought and feeling which govern the man - his character, that is to say."
"And here we have the reason why children should learn dancing, riding, swimming, calisthenics, every form of activity which requires a training of the muscles, at an early age: the fact being, that muscles and joints have not merely to conform themselves to new uses, but to grow to a modified pattern; and this growth and adaptation take place with the greatest facility in early youth."
"It is it so easy for ourselves to take up a new habit, it is tenfold as easy for the children; and this is the real difficulty in the matter of the education of habit."
"Rewards? No; to him a reward is a punishment presented under another aspect..."
"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."
"Let them make their mud pies freely; but that over, they should be impatient to remove every trace of soil, and should do it themselves."
"In conclusion, let me say that the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions - a running fire of Do and Don't; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured they will go the right way, and grow to fruitful purpose."
"When a child grows stupid over a lesson, it is time to put it away. Let him do another lesson as unlike the last as possible, and then go back with freshened wits to his unfinished task."
"What is the natural consequence of work well and quickly done? Is it not the enjoyment of ampler leisure?"
"Allow them, at the utmost, an hour and a half for their home work; treat them tacitly as defaulters if they do not appear at the end of that time; do not be betrayed into word or look of sympathy; and the moment the time for lessons is over, let some delightful game or storybook be begun in the drawing room."
"At the same the custom of giving home-work, at any rate to children under fourteen, is greatly to be deprecated."
"Indeed, exceedingly little actual punishment is necessary where children are brought up with care."
"You want a child to remember? Then secure his whole attention."
"Indeed, obedience is the whole duty of the child, and for this reason - every other duty of the child is fulfilled as a matter of obedience to his parents. Not only so: obedience is the whole duty of man; obedience to conscience, to law, to Divine direction."
"Exactly so; because, in these cases, there is no gradual training of the child in the habit of obedience; no gradual enlisting of his will on the side of sweet service and a free will offering of submission to the hightest law: the poor children are simply bullied into submission to the will, that is, the willfulness, of another; not at all, 'for it is right'; only because it is convenient."
"The mother often loses her hold over her children becasue they detect in the tone of her voice that she does not expect them obey her behests; she does not think enough of her position; has not sufficient confidence in her own authority."
"By-and-by, when he is old enough, take the child into confidence; let him know what a noble thing it is to be able to make himself do, in a minute, and brightly, the very thing he would rather not do. To secure this habit of obedience, the mother must exercise great self-restraint; she must never give a command which she does not intend to see carried out to the full. And she must not lay upon her children burdens, grievous to be borne, of command heaped upon command."