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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
Box 20219
Portland OR 97294
Fax: 503-253-7345
Phone: 503-253-9633  

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"The Bible in Living Sound: Get your kids excited about the Bible!"
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Table of Contents
     Habits, Part 1  (Last Issue)
          The Advantages of Habits
          The Nature of Habits
          An Inventory of Habits
          A Sample List of Good Habits
     Habits, Part 2  (This Issue)
          17 Ways To Form Good Habits;
          Relationship of Habits to Character,
               Discipline, Training, and Spiritual Life
     Recommended Resources
          Marvelous Math Windows Software
          Grand Connect for Grandparents and Grandchildren
          The Home Educator's Booksale
          Power-Glide Flash Cards
          Christian Liberty Academy School System
     Sunnyside Up: Humorous Anecdote


     In this issue we continue the discussion, begun in our last
issue, of how to help our children form good habits.  See

     Forming good habits is closely connected with developing
positive character by consistently making correct choices.  See
issues #87 and #88 in our newsletter archive at

     Our goal is to encourage our children to love and obey the
Lord from their hearts.

     "Until we all attain to the unity of the faith,
          and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
     to a mature man, to the measure of the stature
          which belongs to the fullness of Christ."
     Ephesians 4:13

     May the Lord bless your family for His glory!

Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
The Teaching Home is a 24-year-old, home-school family business.

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Forming Good Habits
by Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

     Habits, Part 1  (Last Issue)
          The Advantages of Habits
          The Nature of Habits
          An Inventory of Habits
          A Sample List of Good Habits

     Habits, Part 2  (This Issue)
          17 Ways To Form Good Habits;
          Relationship of Habits to Character,
               Discipline, Training, and Spiritual Life

17 Ways To Form Good Habits
     There are many tools that you can use to good advantage in
forming or helping your child to form a habit.  The more of these
tools you can put to work for you, the easier and faster will be
the progress.

1.  One at a Time, and Go Slow, Please
     Identify and introduce just one new habit or routine at a
time.  Take plenty of time and make sure the habit is well
established before going on to the next one on your list.  It's
better to successfully build a single helpful habit than to try
for a total overhaul of your life -- and fail.

2.  Use Affirmative Words
     It is easier to form a good habit through positive
determination than negative.  Your mind needs to hear what
you will do, not what you won't do.
    Craft a succinct, positive sentence such as, "I will brush my
teeth thoroughly every night before I go to bed."
     Our mother (editors Sue and Cindy also have nine other
siblings) used a short, memorized checklist to be sure we
were all ready to go somewhere.  She always asked, with
the same words and in the same order, "Have you done your
face, hands, teeth, and hair?"
     Even for breaking a bad habit, you can use positive words
(e.g., "If I am tempted to eat candy, I will get a drink of water

3.  Ask the Lord's Help
     "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into
temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 26:41
     "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

4.  Just Do It
     Sometimes it isn't doing a thing that's so difficult, but
knowing what you should do and deciding to do it.  Review the list
of good habits you want to establish.  See our last newsletter at
     Make a commitment, and/or ask your child to do so, to work
on the new habit consistently for 3-6 weeks.

     Editor's Note:  Grandparents' Day is coming up on September 12.
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5.  Make It Visual
 *  Post a chart with names and dates; then add a sticker or
     check mark each time a person remembers to do the "habit of
     the month" correctly.
 *  Have each person make a poster with the target habit stated
     and illustrated.
     Resource:  See books by Gregg and Joshua Harris:
     "The Original 21 Rules of This House"
     "Uncommon Courtesy for Kids"

 *  Place these posters around your home where they will be
     noticed, especially in areas where the action might take place.

6.  Explain and Motivate
     It will help motivate your child if you explain the new
habit, tell him exactly what is expected, and give the moral,
biblical, and/or practical reasons why he should do it.  Show him
how it will benefit him in the future and what unpleasant effects
will result from not forming the habit.  Your goal is to obtain your
child's willing cooperation if possible.

7.  Gentle Reminders
     After you have explained the new habit to your child, let
him know that you will be helping him by reminding him when he
needs to perform the habit.
 *  Find ways to remind your child without unpleasant nagging and
     friction.  You might set up a "secret" signal between you like
     the sign language sign for "close the door" or a finger to your
     lips for "chew with your mouth shut."  Then when you see the
     need, you can simply smile and sign him the reminder.
 *  Give your child expectant challenges, such as "Do you think
     you can remember to sweep the floor after dinner without a
 *  Although your reminders are gentle, they need to be firm and
     consistent, never once letting noncompliance slip by.
 *  You might distract your child from a bad habit (such as
     biting nails) by suggesting an activity.

8.  Role-Play
     You might need to carefully show your child exactly what you
want him to do.
 *  Demonstrate the action you want your child to form into a habit.
 *  Engage your child in role-playing as you simulate the
     situations in which the habit is called for.  This is especially
     helpful in teaching manners and other interpersonal relations.

9.  Drills
     Drills are repeated actions, the very definition of a
habit.  This works well for some things like enunciation of
words or shutting doors.  Doing a short role play over and over
several times is another type of drill.

10.  Support
     When you are working on a habit, find a friend who will pray
for you, offer you encouragement, and hold you accountable.
Maybe you can work on the same or a different habit together and
support each other.  You can have this kind of relationship with
your child as well.

11.  Rewards
     Depending on the age of your child and the nature of the
habit, you might consider:
 *  Recognition each time the habit is done correctly (e.g., a check
     mark on your chart).
 *  An immediate reward each time the habit is done correctly
     (best for very young children).
 *  A larger reward to look forward to when the habit has
     successfully been formed (older children can wait longer).
 *  Affection should not be used as a reward; it should be given
     freely at all times.
 *  Affirmation and encouragement for consistent repetitions is
 *  Children should realize the new habit is its own reward in the
     advantages it gives them (e.g., finishing their school work
     without dawdling leaves more time for other activities).

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12.  Tie Habits Together
     Habits often represent blocks of behavior -- a series of
activities that naturally follow each other (e.g., your child's
bedtime routine).  If you already have a good habit in place, try
tying a new habit to it.  Like a locomotive engine, your
established habit can pull your new habits along with it.

13.  Good Examples
     Our children will pick up most of their habits (good or bad)
from watching and listening to us (or from others with whom they
spend time).  It behooves us to pay close attention to our habits,
both for our own sake and for theirs.  It always gets  back to
that doesn't it?  It is simple, although it can be hard.  We need
to sincerely love and obey the Lord, and then teach our
children to do the same.

     You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
          with all your soul, and with all your strength.
     And these words which I command you today
          shall be in your heart.
     You shall teach them diligently to your children,
          and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
          when you walk by the way, when you lie down,
          and when you rise up.  Deuteronomy 6:5-7

     Of course, you also need to make sure the examples provided
for your children in person, books, and videos encourage them in
good habits, not bad ones.

14.  Use Stories
     Stories can bring a concept alive in terms that children can
understand, identify with, and remember.  Jesus used parables
in this way.

     Old-time children's books (e.g., Elsie Dinsmore) from
Mantle Ministries and other sources.
     "School Days Devotional Praise" character-building stories
from the Bible and about real boys and girls, tape of songs, and
posters. (grades 1-8).

15.  Use Proverbs and Sayings
     Proverbs (wisdom distilled into memorable sayings) such as
Solomon's in the Bible, Aesop's "moral of the stories," and folk
sayings (e.g., "Work before play and you'll be happy all day!")
can be useful in visualizing and remembering the target habit.
     You might even make up your own saying, proverb, or poem.

     "For Instruction in Righteousness"
     "Christian Ethics for Youth"

16.  Don't Give Up
     You or your child might become discouraged or overwhelmed
when first forming a habit, but continue to exert self-control in
disciplining yourself or your child and don't give up.  Keep your
eye on the goal. Encourage your child that the longer you do
something, the easier it will become!
     Teach your children that when you don't measure up to your
intentions, you should not concentrate on your failure, but return
to your efforts with renewed determination and vigor.  Of
course, if the failure involved a sin or wrong, it must be
confessed and made right before going on.

17.  Maintain Your Habits
     A new habit needs to be carefully guarded so that it does
not slip into a non-habit.  If you relax your efforts while a
habit is new, you stand to lose everything you have gained up to
that point and might need to start all over again.
     Practice does make perfect; the more you tend your habit,
the stronger it will become.

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Relationship of Habits to Character,
Discipline, Training, and Spiritual Life

     Parents can motivate and help their children choose actions
that will form good habits.  This is done through various means
such as those described above and through consistent, loving,
and biblical discipline and training in God's Word.
     Good habits develop into positive character qualities.
     It is possible for children to form good habits and
character qualities, behaving well outwardly because of their
training and external constraints, yet rebel inwardly.  This, of
course does not please the Lord, who looks on the heart, or
     However, when a child's motives are not correct, his parents
are not excused from training him; rather they must seek to
influence their child to change his motives by giving control of
his life to the Lord.
     Thus, the responsibility of parents is two-fold:
     1.  To train their child's outward behavior so that he
avoids bondage to destructive patterns of sinful behavior.
     2.  To win his heart for the Lord so that his life will
demonstrate the fruit of God's indwelling Spirit.

     "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
Galatians 5:22-23

     Please Thank and Support
     Our Sponsoring Advertisers!
          These free newsletters are made possible financially by
     the fine suppliers who advertise in them and the accompanying
     e-mail.  Please consider those that advertised in our last issue
     (below) as well as the ones in this issue.

     HSLDA's Generation Joshua

     Builder Books Homeschool Materials

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     "School Days Devotional Praise"

     "Christian Ethics for Youth"

     HomeSchool ID Card


Sunnyside Up
     Our daughter Erica, 14, was showing our daughter Sierra,
2, a T-shirt she had decorated with fabric paints.  Erica had
written "Smile! Jesus loves you!" on it.
     Since Sierra is just beginning to identify letters, she
pointed out all the letters "A, E, and S" on the T-shirt.
     Erica then showed her the letter "U" from the word "you"
and said, "This is a letter 'U.'"
     To our surprise, Sierra replied, "Oh, a letter 'me'?"
     Submitted by Valerie E., Indiana

God Loves You.
     Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ
died in our place, then rose to life again.  If we trust Jesus Christ
as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
     "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of
works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

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