Posts Tagged ‘character’

Charlotte Mason – Book 5: Formation of Character

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012


This Charlotte Mason book is actually a series of stories and examples of character formation. The first story involves a five-year-old boy who throws tantrums. His parents cure him of this character defect by suddenly having him change his thoughts when he feels that he is about to throw a tantrum. At first his parents excitedly change his occupation as soon as he is about to have a meltdown. Soon his habit begins to break because it is replaced by a new habit – running around the outside of the house. The boy finally takes matters into his own hands and runs around the house whenever he is tempted by his temper. Eventually he is cured of the bad habit.

The second story deals with a girl who flitters from one thing to another, never finishing anything. The mother is advised to give short, interesting lessons to train the girl in the habit of attention. Something attempted, something done – this is the sense of accomplishment that the mother should build into each lesson so that the girl will feel a sense of accomplishment, of growth, and of moving forward each day, and it will give her a desire to finish each day’s work.

The third story is about a girl who pouts and goes through life as though under a cloud. The cure is to tell the child that she hurts the entire family because her mood pulls down the moods of everyone else in the house. Will she only think of herself, or will she love her family by choosing to think positive thoughts and to be joyful?

The fourth story is longer, and it is about depression. How does the young woman get out of her depressions? She purposely thinks positive thoughts and forces herself not to dwell on sadness. At first it is difficult, but once a person establishes a habit of thinking positively, she will not get depressed any more.

The next chapter isn’t a story. She rants and raves about our arbitrary actions as parents, and I was deeply convicted. If other people treated us the same way that we sometimes treat our children, would we put up with it? For example, does the punishment always fit the crime? If a toddler unknowingly breaks something irreplaceable by accident, do you get angry?

The sixth chapter is a story about a girl who lies outrageously by telling unnecessary lies just to be interesting. The parents must teach her the difference between truth and fiction by reading the fairy tales and enjoying the fiction. Then give exercises in truth by giving an oral message for her to deliver to somebody else in the house. That person writes down what the girl said, and the girl takes the paper back to the mother to see that she has reported only the truth.

The seventh story deals with a boy who is always forgetful. He needs to learn the habit of paying attention. When he was little, he should have been trained to pay attention by having him occupy himself a little longer with some plaything than he did the previous day. However, now that he is older, the parent must put interest into the thing that needs to be remembered. Every night, have him fill in a chart: “Remembers” and “Forgets.” Put a tally mark under the correct heading. He is fighting a battle with his forgetfulness, and he might lose the fight if he does not try harder. Most boys will take up the challenge and win the fight by getting more tally marks on the “Remembers” side.

The eighth story is about a woman who pretends to be sick all the time to get recognition. She needs to become aware of her problem and find another way to get recognition.

There are many more stories and examples in this book. They are helpful because parents can find solutions to character problems in their children.

Related product: Using Journals to Teach Writing

Charlotte Mason – Book 2: Parents and Children

Friday, April 20th, 2012


In this book Charlotte Mason explains to parents how they should teach their children. The most important aspect in the teaching of children is the formation of their character. Character can be taught through the formation of habits. To erase a bad habit, replace it with a good one. For example, if a boy is constantly playing bad tricks on people, excite him with the idea of bringing joy and good surprises to those people. Then devote yourself for a month to the child, making sure that he never falls into his old habits.

Most of what we do in life is done through habit. If we want to improve our lives, we must build good habits into it, one at a time. Then we will mindlessly do the good habit that brings joy to our lives. Well brought-up children are the ones that have been trained to have good habits.

We must also give our children living ideas every day – something that will excite them and deepen their curiosity, and therefore their knowledge of the world. This can be conveyed through nature, living books, the Bible, or an everyday object around the house. Children have a thirst for knowledge, and a day is wasted if it does not have one new idea for them to think about.

Humility is a character quality that we as a society do not understand. We think it means that we put ourselves down and say that we are not good at something. But Christ never put Himself down, and He is our example of perfect humility. To be humble means to not think of oneself at all. We should try to instill this quality in our children. (Charlotte Mason says that children are humble naturally, but I disagree.)

Truthfulness is also important. If a child is not accurate, but embellishes by making up much of the story of what happened, we are to make sure that the child understands the difference between truth and fiction. The child needs plenty of time to play in the fictitious world by reading fairy tales or playing at King Arthur, for example. But then show the difference between truth and fiction, and tell them that when addressing adults about real life, they should stick to the facts.

As far as blatant lying is concerned, we should get to the underlying issue. If they are trying to defend someone else, tell them that defending someone is good, but not at the expense of truth.

Even a baby can be trained in character. If he cries, change his thoughts to something new, like going outside or smelling a flower. Then the habit is set up to not cry for every simple bump in life. Instead he finds something else to interest him, and he takes his mind off the pain.

People sometimes misinterpret logical conclusions as what is morally right. The mind will fix upon an idea and subconsciously follow it to its logical conclusion. This is why people can rationalize sin – it seems like the right thing to do. Only if we are aware that our mind runs subconsciously along a logical course can we stop and throw out those thoughts that are wrong.

This book restates many of the same issues covered in volume one, but it comes at them from different angles, which is useful for understanding the topics that she is dealing with.

Related product: Using Journals to Teach Writing