Thursday, May 22, 2014
"A START IN THINKING ABOUT MY CHILD'S CHARACTER"
The forming or fashioning "of a child's brain depends on the habits which the parents permit or encourage;... the habits of the child produce the character of" a person, "because certain mental" habits "once set up," will "go on for ever unless they should be displaced by other habits. ... Ever day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend." HOME EDUCATION : CHARLOTTE MASON. p 118.
Are there certain character traits that you hope your children will have locked in their nature once they become adults? These may not be evident in their life now, but like many parents, we hope somehow they will be picked up and established by the time they leave home!!
WHAT IS "CHARACTER"?
The Oxford Dictionary says, "A person's qualities, reputation, good repute, personal appearance, collective peculiarities, nature, style, the distinctive mental or moral qualities of an individual..."
Charlotte Mason has written extensively on the subject of Character, saying that each child has a particular, unique nature. They have tendencies and dispositions which make some character traits automatic, while others are foreign and therefore difficult to adopt and lock into one's developing Character.
CAN PARENTS CONTRIBUTE TO THEIR CHILD'S CHARACTER?
Charlotte says that parents make the greatest contribution towards how their children develop in their character and in how they 'turn out' in the end.
The easiest place to start working on anything is at the beginning, when our children are very little, but regardless of age you can still begin work on their character now. It is never too late.
I completely agree that, "the habits of the child produce the character of the" person. It is our responsibility to recognise, "permit or encourage" the habits of our children.
If it is important to you that your child be honest, or hardworking, an independent thinker, reliable, a listener, humorous, a reader, articulate, tidy, perceptive, helpful, even tempered, compassionate, punctual, friendly, forthright, polite, motivated, a forward thinker, an inspirer, observant....., you have a role in building this into their Character.
HABITS FORM CHARACTER.
Every day you see your child practicing good, acceptable and not acceptable habits. These will continue to be practiced year after year and form their character, unless they are "displaced by other habits."
How do you change the habits a child practices?
SOME STORIES ~
# "A baby falls, gets a bad bump, and cries piteously." An experienced mother doesn't make matters worse by talking about what's happened or lavish emotional 'sorries', 'it must have hurt', 'poor little busby'... Instead she "hastens to change their thoughts", by taking the baby to the window to watch the trees blowing, gives them their favourite toy, shows them through a picture book...., diverting the child's attention and gradually "the child pulls themselves up in the middle of a sob, though they are really badly hurt." This is exactly how an adult's will works in the many daily situations of life. "It is by force of will that a person can change their thoughts, transfer their attention from subject to another. ... this is enough to save... and to make" a person of character, "this power of making themselves think only of those things which they have beforehand decided that is good to think on." Home Education : Charlotte Mason. p 324.
What is happening here is that the baby or child is learning a self-compelling power, that they have a say in controlling how they react, what they will do and think.
Habits form Character.
# "Her thoughts are wandering" on to unhelpful things, "to the hindrance of her work; she pulls herself up, and deliberately fixes her attention on those incentives which have most power to make her work, the leisure and pleasure which follow" after hard work is completed, the responsibility that she has to "fulfil this task. Her thoughts run in the groove she wills them to run in, and work is no longer an effort." Home Education " Charlotte Mason. p 324.
Habits form Character.
THE ESSENCE OF ALL THIS.
Children can be taught this simple practice.
"Are you cross? Change your thoughts.
Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts.
Are you craving for things you are not to have? Change your thoughts.
There is a power within you, your own will, which will enable you to turn your attention from thoughts that make you unhappy and wrong, to thoughts that make you happy and right. And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the will acts; this is the sole secret of the power over himself which the strong man wields - he can compel himself to think of what he chooses, and will not allow himself in thoughts that breed mischief." Home Education : Charlotte Mason. p 326.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Do you believe that as a parent you can contribute to changes in the habits of your child? Does all this seem daunting or does it ring true? More to come.