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Habit Training Workshop Notes

Thank you for joining me on the journey of habit training and habit formation

Below are the notes + resources from the workshop

We are training their personhood

(souls; mind, will and emotions)

“Every 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. ” (Vol 1, p. 118)


“We are all mere creatures of habit. We think our accustomed thoughts, make our usual small talk, go through the trivial round, the common task, without any self-determining effort of will at all. If it were not so––if we had to think, to deliberate, about each operation of the bath or the table––life would not be worth having; the perpetually repeated effort of decision would wear us out. But, let us be thankful, life is not thus laborious. For a hundred times we act or think, it is not necessary to choose, to will, say, more than once. And the little emergencies, which compel an act of will, will fall in the children’s lives just about as frequently as in our own. These we cannot save them from, nor is it desirable that we should. What we can do for them is to secure that they have habits which shall lead them in ways of order, propriety, and virtue, instead of leaving their wheel of life to make ugly ruts in miry places.” (Vol 1, p 110-111)



Habit training is the discipleship of their souls: mind, will and emotions so that their spirit is not so weighed down with feeling chaos and emotional domination that they are able to CHOOSE to self-regulate.  

  • Work in private (to preserve your child’s dignity) - what happens in the privacy and safety of home is not the business of the stranger at the grocery store.

  • We train in private to make our private and public life run smoothly with trust and obedience.

  • Let your yes be yes and your no be no. (Matthew 5:37)

  • Devote yourself unceasingly, just as though you were caring for a sick child.

  • Separate the “sin”/ infraction from their identity.  Don’t use words like, “you always…”.


Steps in Habit formation
(building a disciple)


-Respect the personhood of the child.  Are they struggling with this habit because of a learning issue, trauma, neurodivergence, physical issue? "We allow no separation to grow up between the intellectual and 'spiritual' life of children, but teach them that the Divine Spirit has constant access to their spirits, and is their Continual Helper in all the interests, duties and joys of life. (C. Mason, Principle 20)"

-Preempt the behavior if you can/give them a heads up - don’t shift gears quickly if you can help it (when it comes to chores) - ie, “we’re going to be somewhere that you will need to walk quietly and stay right next to me”.  Do you remember when you had to do that before?"  OR, "In 10 minutes, we are going to start cleaning your room. - kids cannot always shift attention quickly, so it feels like emotional whip lash.

-Articulate the GOOD behavior (the opposite of what you observed).


-Focus on one good/bad habit at a time but never let the other slip. “The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time, doing no more than keep watch over those already formed.” (Vol 1, p. 136)


-Explain to the child the fault and it’s logical conclusion, ie: "if you dawdle, we lose the time to do XYZ".  Our goal is to get their will on our side and to deal with the bad habit as a neutral issue that doesn't make them a bad person, it makes them human.

“It is evident that to administer rewards and punishments on this principle requires patient consideration and steady determination on the mother’s part. She must consider…what fault of disposition the child’s misbehaviour springs from; she must aim her punishment at that fault, and must brace herself to see her child suffer present loss for his lasting gain.” (vol 1, p148)


-Do not let them whine.  That is not an overflow of their personality.  You are not stifling their voice, you are teaching them self-regulation. This is their flesh nature not wanting to be corrected and submit to authority.  They have the ability to control their emotions, but it’s a and our job as parents is to lead them and model for them HOW to calm down, how to take a breath and collect themselves, how to talk in a calmer voice. 

Younger - “I want to hear what you have to say, but I can’t understand whining/crying”

Older - “I’m willing to discuss anything with you, but if you’re rude, you lose the right to that dialogue.  As soon as you can talk respectfully, we can continue the conversation” - Then you must set a time to continue the conversation.  The (good) natural consequence of calming down and choosing respect is the restoration of relationship and communication.  

-Give your child the chance to choose the right. “What is the right thing to do right now?”


-Obey first, ask questions later. 


-Obeying the right way vs. Obeying the wrong way. 

You’re training their hearts, not just their actions - “I’m sitting down on the outside, but standing up on the inside”.  Children are teenage ticking time bombs.  In the younger years, we’re stewarding their hearts to respond respectfully, EVEN IF they don’t understand. This is how God wants us to relate to him.  Will we honor, love, obey him even when it doesn’t make sense?


-You can make your child obey; that’s actually your job. You can respect the dignity of your child, but require obedience.

 If it weren’t possible, then God wouldn’t do that with us.  Law of natural consequences.  Discipline is necessary and the Lord disciplines those he loves.

“Consideration made the reason of the failure plain: there was a warm glow of goodness at the heart of every one of the children, but they were all incapable of steady effort, because they had no strength of will, no power to make themselves do that which they knew they ought to do. Here, no doubt, come in the functions of parents and teachers; they should be able to make the child do that which he lacks the power to compel himself to.”  (Vol 1, 99-100)


-Your job has weight and importance and children crave parameters and safety.

“Knowing that the brain is the physical seat of habit and that conduct and character alike, are the outcome of the habits we allow; knowing, too, that an inspiring idea initiates a new habit of thought, and hence, a new habit of life; we perceive that the great work of education is to inspire children with vitalising ideas as to every relation of life, every department of knowledge, every subject of thought, and to give deliberate care to the formation of those habits of the good life which are the outcome of vitalising ideas. In this great work we seek and assuredly find the co-operation of the Divine Spirit, whom we recognise, in a sense rather new to modern thought, as the supreme Educator of mankind in things that have been called secular, fully as much as in those that have been called sacred.” (3/172-173)


Start with Obedience, Attentiveness and Truthfulness





If we are looking at an action/skill/idea that we want them to attain:


Hill - what is standing in their way?  What object beyond their control is prohibiting that attainment?  What may be in front of them that looks insurmountable and they will need extra tools + perseverance that others might not need in order to overcome this hill?


Skill - Is their lack of success due to a skill issue/lack of tools or knowledge?  Are we requiring something beyond them that they are not logistically or physically capable of at this time?


Will - is their lack of success due to an attitude issue


It’s very rarely just ONE of these issues, but a combination of all three.

5 Categories of Habits

(summarized by Simply Charlotte Mason)

  1. Mental
    1. Attention

    2. Imagining (forming a mental picture of something that is not present)

    3. Meditation (following out a subject to all its issues)

    4. Memorizing

    5. Mental Effort

    6. Observation (seeing fully and in detail)

    7. Perfect Execution (working carefully with one’s hands with an aim at “perfect”)

    8. Reading for Instruction

    9. Remembering

    10. Thinking (logical thinking)

    11. Accuracy

    12. Concentration

    13. Reflection (ruminating on what we have received)

    14. Thoroughness (dissatisfaction with a slipshod, imperfect grasp of a subject)

  2. Moral
    1. Integrity (as shown in your Priorities, Finishing tasks, your Use of Time, and how you treat Borrowed Property)

    2. Obedience

    3. Personal Initiative

    4. Reverence (respect for other people and property)

    5. Self-Control (keeping back the expression of our passions and emotions)

    6. Sweet, Even Temper

    7. Truthfulness

    8. Usefulness (offering valuable or productive service to others)

  3. Physical
    1. Alertness to Seize Opportunities (not just for being useful, but also seizing opportunities to learn new things)

    2. Fortitude (bearing discomfort and hardship courageously)

    3. Health (Charlotte insisted that health is not only a blessing, but a duty!)

    4. Managing One’s Own Body (knowing where one’s body parts are in space so as to use them to the best advantage)

    5. Music (“It would be hard to say how much that passes for inherited musical taste and ability is the result of the constant hearing and producing of musical sounds, the habit of music, that the child of musical people grows up with.”)

    6. Outdoor Life (“Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.”)

    7. Quick Perception of Senses (similar to observation, but including all five senses)

    8. Self-Control in Emergencies (cultivated by calmness in “all the little casualties of the hour”)

    9. Self-Discipline in Habits (“Habits are not fully formed so long as supervision is necessary.”)

    10. Self-Restraint in Indulgences (in matters of food, time, activities, and rest)

    11. Training the Ear and Voice (hearing a difficult word spoken once and being able to pronounce it correctly)

  4. Decency and Propriety
    1. Cleanliness

    2. Courtesy

    3. Kindness

    4. Manners

    5. Modesty and Purity

    6. Neatness (“pleasing and suitable”; similar to good taste)

    7. Order (everything in its place)

    8. Regularity (adhering to a schedule or routine)

    9. Candor (not prejudiced; sincere; respecting the opinions of others)

    10. Courage

    11. Diligence

    12. Fortitude (bearing hardship or discomfort with courage)

    13. Generosity

    14. Gentleness

    15. Meekness

    16. Patience

    17. Temperance (moderation in action, thought, or feeling)

    18. Thrift (careful management, especially of money)

  5. Religious
    1. Regularity in devotion

    2. Reverent attitude

    3. Sunday Keeping

    4. Thanksgiving

    5. Thought of God

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