February 21, 2024

The Power of a Positive Habit

Woman Holding a Little GirlTrain up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NASB

At a recent Bible quizzing event, I was surprised at my reaction to a little guy reciting this verse. The verse is not unfamiliar. But for some reason what popped into my mind, this time, was a sad scene: a bunch of eighty- and ninety-year-old guys clinging desperately to their youth, hobbling around the soccer field, kicking the ball with their canes.

Often, when we consider this verse, we’re debating whether parents are just supposed to train their kids to do the right thing (the less fashionable option) or whether it’s instructing parents to find out what is unique about their child (the interpretation currently in vogue). Why make it so complicated? Maybe God is just telling us that habit is a powerful tool, and we have the opportunity to build positive habits into our children’s lives.

Make habit your servant. Consider what habits you are building now and how they will serve your kids as adults. In the Mielke household, we have not had a TV for 10 years and we still have trouble getting to bed before the 11 o’clock news!

If I were starting over, I would:

  • Make cleaning up after dinner a fun part of the actual meal. Everyone participates!
  • Continue family reading, even after the kids can read much more efficiently on their own. (Allows for rich discussion of life choices and consequences WITHOUT using your friends as examples!)
  • Ask about the kids’ memory verses, and help them see how they relate to everyday life.

Habits I am happy we have developed:

  • Eating dinner together everyday. Followed by general hilarity. Laughing so hard you fall off your chair, what could be more fun?
  • Inviting others to church, Awana, MOPS, and everything else we do.
  • Scripture memory! My daughters are so much better at it than I am, AND they have learned to work hard.
  • Daily Bible reading. Parents, do your kids see you reading your Bible?

What about you? Do the habits you are building into your kids support the priorities you want them to grow up with?

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11 thoughts on “The Power of a Positive Habit

  1. This is soooo good for me right now! I’m losing my head this month, it’s been so busy…and we’ve had head colds…bad weather…car troubles…thank you for laying out all the right priorities so simply. I couldn’t agree more with your stance on television, something I’ve grown lax on lately. (not TV necessarily, but movies). There is a definite correlation between TV and my children’s attitudes and behaviors, their contentment and relationships…

    And btw, we participated in an Awana Bible quizzing just two Saturday’s ago and my oldest quizzed out in TnT book 1! It was a great reward of all her hard work her first year in this particular club.

  2. Lots of great stuff here, Rebecca. A lot of what we do as parents is reflected in our kids. It’s important that they see our heart and that we live the Christian life in front of them so that they will also!

  3. Great stuff. On the family reading issue, we are currently at a sligtly problematic stage with Elin where she refuses to be read to – she wants to do it herself. Thus if I am reading a book to her, I quickly get a little echo!

    But I guess that is just a phase because her reading has really taken off, so I’ll keep trying to continue the family reading.

    Thanks for the good advice.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, you guys (that’s what we in the Great Northwest call a group – weird, isn’t it?).

    Mary congratulations! That’s so great. And what I love about that particular event is how the Gospel is presented through the questions and the verses. Did you stay for the later books, too? How about “Children are a heritage from the Lord”? (I don’t know if that’s word perfect.) I just love that the kids are learning this stuff AND the audience is hearing it, too.

    If anybody has not looked at the AWANA T&T books, I highly recommend doing so!

    Stephen, that’s awesome that she is wanting to read for herself!

    I can flesh out what we did a little more, perhaps it will be helpful. It really didn’t fall apart until later elementary. When they were pre-schoolers I read them chapter books, mainly because I got too bored with picture books. It built their attention spans. (I read the entire Little House series to my daughters before they started to read.)

    Once they began to read, we chose books that were clearly beyond their reading level. If we had kept it up, we would have been reading them Moby Dick or something about the time we gave it up. Hmmm … perhaps there is a connection there.


  5. Great Post, Rebecca! I firmly believe that ‘training a child in the way he should go’ is teaching them to form good habits or routines, as I tend to call them. I think one of the best things I started with my children in home schooling is sitting down with them on a verse they are memorizing and explaining what that verse means to them in their life. I even do that with my AWANA T&T girls before they memorize. If you don’t do that, they are just memorizing a ‘bunch of words’ that may or may not make sense to them. They need to know how they can apply it to their own life.

    In my adult life, I think back on those things that we did as a family when I was growing up. Eating together, attending church together, Sunday activities. I remember those everyday routines very fondly now, even if they seemed boring or out of fashion at the time. They gave me a sense of foundation and belonging.

  6. Nice to meet you, Damselfly. Starting when your child is young is the best time to get into good habits. The older they are the more work it is to instill good habits and responsibility.

  7. Hi again, Rebecca,
    Yes we stayed for the whole quizzing! It was a great day…and a super turnout. I loved that families could turn out for something Biblical, vs athletic.

  8. Speaking of words that don’t make sense to them (Deb), that reminds me of last night, in Cubbies. Well, this little 3yo could not separate the words “Teach me” from the words “how to” in his own mind. After about 50 tries with the leader, “Teach me Thy way O Lord” finally became “Teach me how to go Your way O Lord”. I was pretty cute!

    I’m afraid it wasn’t word perfect, but I allowed it for the reason that it actually meant something to him. And ultimately that’s what’s important.

  9. Wow! A 3-year old with the ‘content’ already down! I started the Cubbie program at our church with my two oldest daughters helping out A LOT. Those little ones are so adorable, watching them learn God’s Word and ‘recite’ it. They have such wonder in everything at that age. Thanks for sharing that! :cheerful:

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