Good Habits Are Signposts for Mature Kids
Habits are formed when we do things repeatedly. Once an activity becomes a habit, it seems easier to perform and difficult to end. J.D. Thorne, the author of The 10 Commandments of Baseball, likes to say: “in sports and life, practice the difficult and make those good things, which are difficult, habits. This will distinguish you in everything you do.”
Thorne uses the example of a baseball first baseman that gets plenty of practice catching balls on bad hops. Chances are that first baseman is going be very good in game conditions when his infield teammates have to throw to him under all kinds of challenging situations.
But good habits like most everything in life must also be accompanied by good judgment. In baseball, a pitcher may have developed an excellent pitch that he likes to use every time he gets into a jam. But if he overuses that pitch, he becomes predictable and batters love predictable pitchers. The same holds true for a quarterback who has a certain “money play” that he likes to call on third down. If he uses it too often, he also becomes predictable. When the defense knows what play is coming, it gives them an edge over the offense. Good habits practiced with good judgment are terrific signposts of maturity.
Of course, for many habits, a predictable pattern is welcome and admirable. Following each school day, a child needs to spend a period of time doing homework. In many households, the start of each day signals time for kids to make their beds. A responsibility for chores that involve a half an hour or more may be given to a child to perform on the weekend. But our kids’ days are not always predictable, which brings us to yet another challenge to forming good habits: scheduling.
The challenge for parents is working good habits within so much school schedule shuffling that inevitably goes on. For the parents, good judgment is required to determine how and when kids can fulfill their responsibilities around the house. It’s difficult to establish habits when a student might need to be at school one day at 6 a.m. for band practice and then must stay that evening for soccer. Yet, difficult as good habits may be to establish in a modern home, if they are not established, kids will suffer. Good habits lead to accomplishment and reinforce responsibilities, which in turn build self esteem. Sometimes schedules need to be adjusted, but parents and kids need to find time to keep practicing good habits.