Inches 2 Style

A blog on fashion, motherhood and personal development.

Teaching My Daughter Good Habits

Elly at two weeks
One of the things that I must confess I never thought about while I was expecting Elly was teaching her how to do things like brushing her teeth, using polite language when speaking to others, sitting down to meals or settling down while we are at Church. When we started our journey, my one focus was to be functional enough to be there for her whenever she needed me, owing to the sleep deprivation that comes with having a newborn. And so, as she began to settle down and sleep more at night than during the day, I was overjoyed and for me that was milestone enough. You can imagine my joy when, as she got older, I'd tell her, "Elly, it's time for bed" and she would come and prepare to sleep and cuddle up in my arms and proceed to fall asleep. Now, especially when I'm not around, she lays in bed with her blanket and stuffed SpongeBob and falls asleep!
With time however, it became necessary to teach this young lady how to carry herself with dignity and cultivate good manners.
I hope this post inspires you new mums, mums-to-be, and of course honorary mums (aunties, I'm looking at you), not to think you are alone when it comes to helping your child learn the basics. It takes time and patience but as you continue doing it, your child will learn.
Elly just before her 2nd birthday

Brushing of teeth
My dad taught me to brush my teeth. I was very young and don't have a memory of that but I do remember him teaching my youngest sister (I have two sisters, by the way). When it came time to teach Elly how to clean her teeth, I went and bought her the softest toothbrush I could find and wondered how I would even begin. I managed somehow. As she became more aware of her surroundings, she started imitating what people in the house were doing and demanding to brush her teeth. It was a real struggle at first. Getting her to actually brush her teeth instead of chewing on the toothbrush and to spit out when I gave her water to rinse her mouth was HARD, I won't lie. By joining her when she was brushing her teeth and giving her time to get the hang of it, she has become a pro. Now she reminds me, "Mum, Brush" or "Mum, meno (Swahili for teeth)."

Prayers before meals and settling down at Church
We have thus followed a similar routine with other good habits. She knows that we pray before meals and is fond of calling whoever is in the house at mealtime to join us when we are praying. I can't wait for her to be able to recite her prayers. But for now, I'm happy that she is aware of them and even knows that on Sundays people go to Church. And in Church, from when she was born, I tried to make sure we sat in Church throughout Mass. This really helped me because now she tries to behave while we are in church. She takes a book and tries to sing along. However, there are moments when you can tell she is agitated and on those occasions we do step out so as not to disturb the rest of the congregation.

At home, we have dinner together. Elly has made herself the official summoner. At dinnertime, she proceeds to call everyone and she doesn't stop at summoning you. She actually makes you stop whatever it is that you are doing and holds your hand as you get up. She will pause a movie on the laptop (yes, she knows how) or put away your book or if you are asleep, actually wake you up.
Speaking of meals, even though Elly is a poor eater (I need a solution for this), she always sits at table when it's mealtime. She has her favourite seat which, if she finds you sitting on, she proceeds to push you off. I think it's cute but I also try to help her see that she can sit elsewhere.

Polite language
One of the habits that I am most proud of is her language. From when she first learned to speak, we (my family and I) made sure to teach her the magic words i.e. please, thank you, sorry, excuse me, for starters. Guess what? She uses these words daily. When you give her something she says, "Thank you", when you sneeze or cough she says, "Bless you", when she has done something naughty, we try to get her to apologize so she says, in the cutest way, "Sorry" and when she wants to pass and you are in her way she says, "Excusee" (Disclaimer: her speech isn't so refinded yet so her words have their own twist according to how she is able to pronounce them). Interesting story, the other day my dad brought her some oranges. After dinner, they sat down to eat them and it seems she was really enjoying them. She asked for more and when she was given, she smiled and said thank you. My dad was sooo happy :-)

Helping others
Other things that we are teaching her is how to help others. She is a very helpful young lady. She wants to help wash clothes, do the dishes, clean the house and even cook. She is allowed to do those tasks that are safe enough for her and always under heavy supervision. Baby girl is so happy to help. She helps me remember to help others with a smile.

I think it is important to start training your child in these social skills from an early age. Of course at this point Elly will do it because we have asked her to but when she gets older, I look forward to explaining to her why we do certain things in a certain way.

Thank you for stopping by. xo
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About Audrey Masitsa

Audrey is the founder, writer and stylist behind Inches 2 Style. You can read more about her here and hire her for personal shopping, stylist and wardrobe consultations here .
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