Catholic Activity: Forming Good Habits
Concentrate on forming virtues and habits of responsibility in your child from an early age.
Your need to direct your child's actions should also diminish in proportion to his age. It will do so if you establish good habits of living which enable him to fulfill his obligations as a matter of course. By instilling good habits, you can impress upon your child that he has obligations to God and family; that authority demands his respect; that he must be reverent at his religious duties, co-operate in the home, and sacrifice his own interests where necessary for the welfare of others.
By developing good habits in many different areas of life, your child will strengthen his character. He will get many of these habits simply by watching you. From you he should learn to accept his responsibility toward Church, country and family. He should begin the habit of contributing to the support of your pastor at an early age, and be responsible for putting a small sum in the collection plate each Sunday. He should be taught to tip his hat in reverence when he meets a priest or sister. He should also bow his head when he hears the name of Jesus. Many similar habits can be developed.
In the home, he also can learn habits of responsibility at an early age. As soon as he is able, he should do some work around the house as his contribution toward family living. The boy or girl of seven may set the table for dinner or remove the dishes after it. A youngster of nine or ten can help vacuum the floors and keep his own room in order. The older girl can wash dishes and prepare meals occasionally. The older boy can maintain the lawn and wash the car. By performing all these tasks in a regular fashion and without being bribed to do so, your children learn the habit of contributing to the common welfare.
Habits can be inculcated so that they become part of the daily pattern of living. The youngster who is taught to say his morning and night prayers will soon say them automatically; his parents will not have to remind him every day. Similarly, the youngster who is required to do his homework every evening after dinner develops a regular pattern of performance. It will become an automatic process. When he arrives at high school, he will be able to take responsibility for his studies entirely.
Activity Source: Catholic Family Handbook, The by Rev. George A. Kelly, Random House, Inc., New York, 1959