How many times do you say the same thing over and over again each day? If you’re like me, it’s about 291. It drives me crazy, and it probably drives my daughter crazy, too! But lately I’ve been reminded that saying the same thing again and again doesn’t align with the Charlotte Mason philosophy. There’s really no need to repeat myself: Miss H usually hears me, but just might not be listening. This is a doubly bad habit. I need to stop repeating myself, and she needs to start listening!
How Our Bad Habit Got Started….
Miss H began asking, “What?” after everything I said. Yes, that’s all it took! I started repeating almost everything for her. Then she just stopped asking “What?” and completely ignored most of the things I said! (I know it wasn’t a matter of not hearing me- her hearing is perfect.)
…And Why I Need to Stop It
This is a case of the chicken and the egg. I’m not sure whose bad habit came first! But ultimately, repeating myself taught Miss H not to listen to me immediately. Why would she bother to pay attention to me the first time if she’s going to hear it over and over again?
There are a couple of ideas in Charlotte Mason’s volumes that help me understand why it’s helpful to stop repeating myself.
On rereading texts:
“If a child is not able to narrate what he has read once, let him not get the notion that he may, or that he must, read it again. A look of slight regret because there is a gap in his knowledge should convict him.” (Home Education, pgs 229-230)
This passage teaches us two things:
- If a child misses information, it’s unfortunate for them.
She says not to reread a text if a child doesn’t listen to it. This is a challenging thing to do! We often want to save our children from missing out on something good! While this idea applies to conversational things I might say to Miss H, it’s a little different with directions. When giving directions, I have to make sure they are followed or I’ll teach Miss H to disobey me. So, I ask her to practice what I’ve asked her to do at a later time, or let her experience natural consequences.
- Have a child tell-back what you really want them to hear.
This offers an opportunity to have Miss H repeat me, rather than having to repeat myself. It also gives me a chance to make sure she understands me.
When speaking about forming a habit, Charlotte Mason said:
“She never lets the matter be a source of friction between herself and the child, taking the line of his friendly ally to help him against that bad memory of his.” Home Education, pg 123.
This passage is specifically talking about habit formation, but I think it offers some good insight into forming the habit of listening the first time:
- Don’t nag.
When I want my child to do something and I repeat it over and over again, it’s nagging. When Charlotte Mason discusses habit formation, she illustrates a mother who doesn’t repeat what she desires from him. Instead, she discusses it once, and then gives him friendly, knowing looks to see that he remembers.
Sometimes a child hears and then immediately forgets. The old, “In one ear and out the other,” scenario. I do this sometimes, my husband does this sometimes: it happens. Instead of getting frustrated, we remain the ally.
I know there are probably many more examples from Charlotte Mason that support this idea of not repeating statements, directions, or texts. If you have any to share, please do! In my follow-up post, I dig into how we’re working on the habits of listening and prompt obedience.
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