How do we become who we are?
How do we become accustomed to a certain way of doing things?
How do we know what needs to be done without being told?
How do we form habits?
Conditioning. Getting a person (or even an animal) to do something repeatedly until it becomes a part of them.
Kids will be kids. They find every opportunity to play and have fun. I get that. It becomes a concern when they do not know where to draw the line between play time and serious time. I found the students playing around while eating. And not the normal messing around while seated at the dining area. Instead, the run around, hiding in class with food left unattended on the table kind of play. So I decided to lock their classroom and set a rule that the door will only be unlocked once they were done eating with the dining area cleaned and cleared.
Monday: There were a few attempts to enter the classroom before meal was finished. Some went running around before finishing their food. Most left the table unattended after eating. A reminder was given.
Tuesday: Attempts to enter the classroom significantly dropped. Many attempted to enter the classroom upon finishing meal, but before tables were cleared. A reminder was given.
Wednesday: No attempts to enter classroom. Tables left uncleaned. A reminder was given.
Thursday: I forgot to lock the doors. No attempts to enter classroom. Tables cleaned and cleared. Everyone found something to do or play in the living area.
Friday: No attempts to enter classroom. Tables cleaned and cleared. Everyone found something to do or play in the living area.
In the following weeks, the new routine stuck! It worked! Getting them to be accustomed to a new habit worked!
That’s what it takes. Consistency leads to conditioning. The younger they are, the easier to condition. So start them young and keep going even if there are slip ups.
It’s never too late to set a condition. Many times, we, as adults get stuck with doing the same old thing. When things around us evolve, we stay in our comfort zone. Step out. Do something differently and keep doing it until that something new becomes the new comfort zone.