Huh? Oh. — Repeating as a Step in Learning New Habits

(302/365) Q W E R T YBe good.

Be quiet.

Be careful.


Brush your teeth. Pick up your toys. Clean your plate. Wash your hands. Wear a hat. Feed the dog. Wipe your feet.

Haven’t we all said all those things, and many others, a hundred times, at least?

We should train our children in every habit of good, such as obedience, kindness, and cleanliness.

This produces good adults. We could use a few more good adults.

How do we instill habits into children? The three-stage process is not so hard and begins with repetition.

I can type, from memory, a list of all the countries in Southeast Asia:

Malaysia, Laos, Burma, Kampuchea, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines.

I can type, from memory, a list of all the English auxiliary verbs:

Is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been, shall, will, should, would, may, might, must, can, could, do, does, did, have, has, had.

Formulas for geometry, rules of the road, conjugations of foreign verbs, Bible verses, State capitals, all still reside in my attic, ready for me to climb up there and retrieve them. I learned them through repeating. They may fade as I age, but that will not mean that the repetition I used to learn them was wasted.

Repetition has saved me trips to the reference section of the library. It saves me mistakes, it helps me be a better teacher and helpful person, and it is fun. It is especially fun if after 40 years, I hop on a bike or sit at a keyboard, and every skill is still in place. It makes me very glad for asdf jkl; asdf jkl; asdf jkl; .

Repetition is a great learning tool, one that we can teach our children to enjoy, if we do not mind making a little effort at helping with it — you know, songs, games, flashcards, etc. Our children’s future successes are worth more than a little effort, on our part, and on theirs.

Repeatedly asking the same question is one effort that works. Every time we went shopping, I would ask my children what was the rule. They knew. “If anyone but Mom touches merchandise, we all have to go back to the car.” I made it stick. They knew that, too. That repetition saved many a gift store. As they aged, the question changed: “Did you bring money? No? Then you are not shopping; you are just handling things that belong to the store manager, and not to you.” I thought they’d never learn, but they did.

This policy of repeating was a big part of our learning method throughout life. What is seven times eight? When do we feed the animals, and why? How do we know a tornado may be coming? What’s the first thing to remember in case of fire? What are friends for? Who loves you? Why do you exist? How do we spot a manipulator? What should you do if someone tells you not to tell your mom or dad? What does it actually mean to acknowledge Jesus Christ? What should you look for in a possible future spouse? What should you do if you’re in trouble? Your children can learn any important thing through repetition.

Then they won’t get burnt.

More tomorrow


Photo credit: Sarah G…

Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

9 thoughts on “Huh? Oh. — Repeating as a Step in Learning New Habits

  1. I notice that my husband has a habit of repeating or reminding me about things. Sometimes I don’t pay careful attention to him, so he repeats. But he has made me dependent on him, I think, leaving him to remember for me lest I forget. He feels badly for me if I forget something important, for instance. He is probably training me yet! Good post!

  2. Oh, I know what you mean. Where do we draw the line, especially with our children? In a Christian school we once used for our children, their policy was that if a child KEPT forgetting, it was disobedience, and they got a demerit.
    With adults it is harder, because your husband cannot very well send a note to your parents about your demerits! 😀
    That school also taught the children that a thankful heart has a memory. Hmm.
    Perhaps you could somehow penalize yourself when you notice this forgetting? My husband has a great way with me. He knows how much I want to make his life pleasant, when I can, and all he has to do is forget to smile, get that studied, patient look on his face, and I begin mentally double-checking. 😉
    I reserve certain rewards for myself that I cannot access unless I do remembered things. Helps me remember! I am an adult, after all. I think!
    They say a person has to put something out of his mind several times before he actually, really forgets it.
    When I think of that, I can remember remembering and ingnoring the remembrance because it was inconvenient timing. I wonder if it was God reminding me! And me finding Him inconvenient!
    Anyway, I know what you mean. 🙂

  3. repetition is the key. I sat outside a meeting room at the public library when my little brothers were at story hour on a Saturday morning years and years ago. They were listening to a record during the story hour. It had Shari Lewis and she was telling (actually singing) a story of tikki-tikki-timbo. To this day I remember the first part of the song “Tikki-tikki-timbo-so-sim-nimbo-hoi-poi-boss-key-poi–pon-do-hikki-pon-pon-nicki–no–mee-adam–poi. yes that was his name and he lived long ago in China”. Yep—it stuck in all 3 of our heads at the time, and I still can skip along and sing it….repetition indeed!

    1. Wow. You know, I know one like that called: Rikki-tikki-tambo-no-sir-rambo-hairy-berry-bushki-perry-pim-po. What lunacy! Yet repetition caused me to remember it for over 50 years. Just amazing, the memory is!
      And we should cause our children’s memories to be full of USEFUL things! 😉

        1. I may have said that, but I think I’ll change my mind on it. It is very useful to let kids have fun with made-up words and to help them learn they can learn anything on earth (or WHEREVER THAT CAME FROM!) 🙂

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