The Habit of Perfect Execution

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. All day she is crying out, 'Do this!' and they do it not; 'Do that!' and they do the other. 'But,’ you say, 'if habit is so powerful, whether to hinder or to help the child, it is fatiguing to think of all the habits the poor mother must attend to. Is she never to be at ease with her children?” Charlotte Mason

This habit of PERFECT EXECUTION should be a general principal for many, many areas of the child’s life. Once you have given the child an age-appropriate task, expect their best. I would like to clarify that when I refer to ‘perfect’ I mean doing their absolute best. “I don’t expect perfection, but I DO expect your best,” is a statement I say almost daily to my sweet children. I just believe that many mothers THINK they are requiring their child’s best, but they are actually underestimating them.

It took three years for my daughter to learn how to clean a kitchen perfectly. The same principles I used for copywork I used here. I did not expect her to do the entire kitchen at first. I taught her one thing at a time and modeled it. Sometimes, I felt like throwing up my hands and taking over, but I didn’t, thankfully. I just made her keep redoing it over and over until she realized that she could save herself a lot of time and trouble if she would do the task perfectly the first time. At 13 years of age, the habit of perfect execution was in place and she could clean a kitchen beautifully and cook just about any meal I gave her. Today, she feels so capable and pleased with herself. She loves to work in the kitchen now and is truly a blessing to her family in this area. It took extra time on my part, but now I am reaping the benefits.

Even my three year old is required to make his bed every morning and to clean up his toys after he plays. I make sure he has a small manageable quilt that is easy to spread but it must be spread a certain way-not sideways or upside down or crooked. If he wants to go outside or play a game, etc, his toys must be picked up first. If he refuses, then he stays in his room until they are picked up. If he is choosing to be extra obstinate, then I, on purpose, think of something very fun for the children to do next, and broadcast it within his hearing. This usually does the trick and the task accomplished. If not, he may not participate in the event-no exceptions allowed.

I stopped making beds and cleaning up my children’s toys many years ago. I have other more important duties to attend to. In fact, my children almost have the full run of my house now. They do most of the cleaning, laundry and much of the cooking and baking. This frees me up to plan their school lessons, meals, preserve food, work outside on our farm, etc…Natural consequences and rewards have been most helpful in teaching them this particular habit of perfect execution.