It is said that 'first we form habits, and then habits form us'. The training of any man, even the wisest, cannot fail to be powerfully influenced by his early years. From the very first breath that he takes, his education begins. When a mother asked a clergyman when she should begin the education of her four year-old, he replied: "Madam, if you have not begun already you have lost four years. From the first smile that gleams upon an infant's cheek your opportunity begins".
Education of a child is about the formation of habits. It is like writing on the bark of a young tree. As the tree grows, the writing expands. There are a host of habits which can be inculcated in a child, but here are a chosen few that matter
- Personal hygiene: This habit is an absolute must. The child must be made to brush teeth before going to bed and twice daily. The child must be taught to wash hands before and after eating meals.
- Concept of Time: Parents should try to take meals at the same time daily. The kid must be taught to be in bed early and get up early. Later, this habit shall contribute substantially in the child's success.
- Healthy food habits: The child must be provided with healthy and fresh food. In the beginning the child may reject it but parents must exhibit patience and continue to put only healthy food on the table. Survey conducted on children revealed that a particular food may be rejected by children at least 15 times before they develop the taste for it. Junk food must be avoided as much as possible. Kids require food rich in protein and minerals for a healthy growth.
- Television: Long hours of watching TV is not good for the eyes of your child. Also when the child watches rapidly changing pictures on the screen, it has a harmful effect on the brain. TV viewing also leads to lack of concentration in studies. Hence serious restrictions must be put on the child's time before the TV set and the best way possible to do the same is by parents themselves giving up watching TV.
- Sense of belonging: The child must be made to learn that he/she gets what one deserves. Anything that children fancy shall be theirs only when they earn it. Hence parents must give their children what they want not merely as a token of their love and affection but as a condition of their kid fulfilling certain conditions of good behaviour or good performance. Children then value what they get; they try and preserve it. They develop a sense of belonging and responsibility which in their later years transforms into a respect for other person or public property and makes them responsible children.
- Saving and conserving: The concept of saving and conserving must be inculcated as early as possible. Wastage of any kind should be avoided at home. The child must be taught to, for example, a) take as much food in their plates as they can finish, b) switch off the electronic gadgets when not in use, c) turn off the faucets when not required, d) Keeping TV - Audio system on low volume, e) saving in piggy bank.
- Exercise and Sport: Parents should encourage their child to go outdoors and play. Running and playing have a very positive effect on a child's wholesome development. Playing also leads to a child concentrating better in studies.
- Finally: Teach your child to be good, not to tell a lie and share things with others.
- Learning is a never ending process. It has to be continuous and constant. A child when taught or trained for good habits is a child with a lot of mental strength.