Teaching good habits

“My mother understood the value of teaching her children about standards, values, and doctrine while they were young. While she was grateful to others who taught her children outside the home at either school or church, she recognized that parents are entrusted with the education of their children and, ultimately, parents must ensure that their children are being taught what their Heavenly Father would have them learn” (L. Tom Perry, “Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” Ensign, May 2010, 29–31)

The responsibility that I have as a mother to teach my children weighs heavily on my mind. I have three sweet spirits that have been entrusted to my care, and I want to be sure that they grow and learn the important lessons to help them be successful and good people. I don’t care if they grow up to be rich and famous, I just want them to be good and kind.

Children learn best by example, so of course I am trying my best to live my life as a good and kind person. But it is important to verbalize the essential life lessons as well. So lately I’ve been putting a little more thought into our Family Home Evening lessons, and teaching the attributes/skills that I most want my children to develop.

My first lesson along this theme was Hands are for Hugging, not Hurting (can you tell we sometimes have a hitting problem at our house?!). The lesson went really well and those words have become a common phrase heard in our home, when little hands need a reminder on how to behave.

The next lesson was Quickly Obey, followed soon after by Pray Always. Our Follow the Prophet lesson coincided with General Conference, but teaching our children that we follow the prophet is a year-long endeavor.

Each of these lessons was centered on a simple phrase that could be easily remembered and repeated. We talk about them at dinnertime, we mention them in family prayers, and whenever an appropriate opportunity arises. We’re calling them our “Tanner Family Habits” and these are the words that I hope my children will remember and take to heart. I will be happy if when my children are grown they can look back and say “Yes, I know it’s essential to follow the prophet, because we talked about it in our family and we did it”. Or when troubles arise, my children know who to turn to for help (and in gratitude also), because we are a family who prays always. In a way, we are crafting our family mission statement through these lessons.

We’ll keep adding to our list as we go along, working to develop good habits and strengthen our family.

“Maintaining good personal habits which are pleasing to our Heavenly Father will strengthen our character, increase our influence for good, improve our example, bless our loved ones and friends, enrich our lives, and enable us to accomplish those things that yield true personal satisfaction and build peace and happiness in our hearts. We will have joy eternally, possessing a treasure to be much desired and sought after, for the Lord gives this assurance: “Inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.” (D&C 58:28.) (Delbert L. Stapley, “Good Habits Develop Good Character,” Ensign, Nov 1974, 20).

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