Knowing this simple truth can make you a very powerful person! As moms, we get enthused over something and we come up with a plan and decide to reform our kids, whether it be in homeschool or chores, or whatever. It is usually met with outcries rather than consent. Instead of “cracking down”, use the amazing principle of “little by little” to your advantage.
Have you heard how a wild animal is taught to eat out of a human’s hand? The first day, food is left far out in the field, within view the person’s house. The following day, the food is 5 feet closer to the house. The next day, the person stands against their door while the animal comes to eat. Slowly, slowly . . . closer, closer . . . easing the creature into familiarity. It may take a year, but they will succeed!
When my son Daniel was a teenager with emerging muscles, he determined to build his strength by lifting up his little sister Emily every single day. At age 16, Daniel didn’t have a problem hoisting our little petite 3-year-old onto his shoulder and carrying her around, head hanging upside down. Day by day he continued, and by the time she was 13, the weight load had changed considerably, but he was used to it—and still doing it!
We’ve all heard how to cook a frog—by putting him in a pan of cold water and gradually turning up the heat. Had the water been hot initially, he would have leaped out of the pan immediately! Well, we are like that too! We get used to things easily and gradual changes are not even noticed.
Kids (or anyone else for that matter) can be edged gradually into a new pattern that they would reject flatly if you did it all in one fail swoop. One of the amazing things about human beings is that they are highly adaptable. A lizard cannot live in the Antarctic. Polar bears cannot live in the desert. But amazing humans adapt and live in all sorts of extremes—in cardboard boxes in city ghettos to igloos in freezing conditions.
You can use that adaptation capability to help meet your goals. Knowing that you can get from A to Z or from low to high—not all in one giant leap, but step-by-step—can be magic. If you want your daughter to write daily, instead of announcing a new crash “essay-a-day” writing program, have her write one sentence today. That isn’t anything to complain about. And tomorrow, two sentences. Nothing really! And the next day, three. . .
You can use this principle on yourself very effectively. Two minutes of jump roping isn’t too much to ask. Reading just one page a day of a 650 page book is quite doable. Not eating sugar for just one day is manageable. Organizing just one kitchen drawer is really nothing much. But day-by-day, you can reach the stars!
Next time you get the itch to take drastic measures to improve your home life, your children’s obedience, your housekeeping, your homeschool, or anything else—remember:
little by little!