The chains of habits …

SUNDAY, AUGUST 26, 2012

I learned something pretty young even though it took me many years to fully understand it. Growing up, when I was in elementary school, students took turn to present news headlines and a thought of the day every morning during assembly. My first experience standing with a microphone on a podium in front of the whole school (more than 500 people) occurred when I was in-charge of the “thought of the day” one fine morning as a 2nd grader. I nervously rattled off a thought and was off the microphone in less than 10 seconds. What came out of my mouth, probably no one heard. Yet, the thought remains clearly ingrained in my mind to this day. Here it is:

“The chains of habits are too hard to be broken.”

Through my early years, I took this thought for its literal and reactive meaning that habits are like shackles; if someone had a bad habit, it would be hard to come out of it.

Circle of happy kids together smilingQuite later, thinking proactively, I realized that if someone took the effort to adopt a good habit, it will be equally hard to reverse it!

That was an “aha” moment for me. Then, another “aha”. What better time to create those good habits than when our children are young?

A tree can grow and produce strong stems (or STEM!), only when it has strong roots. Those roots are the personal habits needed to be effective.

As I had mentioned in my last post, Back to basics on STEM, for our children to be successful in STEM fields in the 21st century, they need:

1.    Personal habits that enable them  to be effective
2.    The 4Cs of Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communications
3.    Technical competence – the foundations of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Maintaining focus on personal habits, what are these habits to cultivate during elementary ages?

Stephen Covey, the renowned author of the bestselling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, put being proactive as the first critical habit. Being proactive means being in charge of our response in any situation.

Newton’s 3rd law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. However, when people are involved, after action but before reaction, our brain should be given the option to think and choose the best response.

How many times have you heard children say: “I didn’t do it, she made me do it.”? That’s a classic reactive response as if one child had a remote control to control the other child. When that statement occurs next time, act it out with your child (ren) … believe me, it’s fun and creates a real impact in their understanding of how silly it is to be reactive.

Encourage the thinking step between action and reaction by guiding them to consider other possible options. “I hit him because he hit me”; what were the other possible options – forgive him or report to an adult or …

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By: Moni Singh, Founder and CEO,  STEM for Kids

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