I closed my journal, an exasperated sigh escaping my lips. I had read an entry from September 2016- more than a year and a half ago. Scratched in a sparkly pen were the words, “Grow in gentleness. Be more patient. Live more intentionally with my children.” I could have written those words yesterday. But instead, a year and a half had passed, and despite prayer and seeking the Lord in these areas, I felt very little change. Sometimes I’m still as gentle as a desert cactus and about as patient as a two-year-old. This time had flown by without intentional change.
I wonder what would have happened if I had kept writing in that journal, kept marking my progress on a regular basis. Would I have remembered to work on these things more intentionally, instead of just sending little lightning bolt prayers to God when I hovered on the brink of impatient desperation? Or maybe I would have been less discouraged by being able to see that change had been made, however slow and minor it was.
While we are working on our own habits, keeping track of our progress, our ups and downs, can be so helpful. This is no different when we are helping our children with their habits. In these early years of our children’s lives, habit training is one of the most important things we can do for our little ones. We can guide them towards developing strong habits so that they have the tools they need to thrive in school and life.
But habit training is easier said than done. Reading about it is one thing. Actually setting up positive habits and following through with new routines is a never-ending job that requires tact, watchfulness, and persistence.
To help us remain accountable, Charlotte Mason suggested that mothers keep a journal tracking your child’s physical, mental, and moral growth.
Every mother, especially, should keep a diary in which to note the successive phases of her child’s physical, mental, and moral growth, with particular attention to the moral; so that parents may be enabled to make a timely forecast of their children’s character, to foster in them every germ of good, and by prompt precautions to suppress, or at least restrain, what is bad.” Parents and Children, page 105
*I used affiliate links in this post, meaning I will earn a small commission at no cost to you should you choose to buy something.
Keeping a Habit Training Journal
Here are some suggestions for starting a journal of your own.
In a pretty notebook, designate one page to each habit you want to work on with your child. Every few months or so, write a few lines about how your child is progressing. Setting it up that way will allow you to see your child’s development in specific areas. If you have multiple children, make room for a page per habit for each of your children. (I linked to some journals I like in my Amazon Store– affiliate link.)
Line a Day Journal
I’ve been keeping a One Line a Day Journal for almost 5 years now, which means I’ll need to get a new one next January! For each date, there is space for five years of notes. When I flip through my book, I can see exactly what my children said, did, or learned on a specific date. I love looking back through it and seeing how my children have changed. Also, this is a beautiful way to document the sweet, adorable things that your child says throughout the years 🙂
This printable journal helps moms get into the habit of habit training. It highlights the habits that are especially important when our little ones are young, and includes Charlotte Mason’s quotes and other practical tips for implementing habit training.
The journal has been recently updated to include even more ways to work on each habit. I’ve added book lists and age-appropriate chore ideas to help you achieve those smooth and easy days that Charlotte Mason told us about! There is no exact formula for habit training, and sometimes we have to try a few different things to see what resonates with our children.
But more than clever approaches, we need consistency. I created journal prompts to help you dig deeply into why bad habits occur, and how to redirect them into positive habits. There are also observation prompts so that you can track your child’s progress for several weeks, and see where your child needs additional progress.
Laying Down the Rails for Children– This is a resource from Simply Charlotte Mason that I’ve never seen, but have heard good things about.
Smooth and Easy Days– If the aforementioned resource seems too expensive, this free eBook from Simply Charlotte Mason is another option. It compiles Charlotte Mason’s quotes about habit training.