Just this 1 Thing!

Just 1 thing.

Focus on this 1 thing.

Do this 1 thing.

Are you ever overwhelmed by too many things?  I am.

The responsibility to train and discipline my children seems overwhelming sometimes.

So I prayed and the Lord inspired me with this slogan ~

Just this 1 thing.

As I prayed and waited, the Lord gently guided my thinking to the 1 thing in my life and for each of my children that needed attention.  It came simply and clearly.

  • Just a few words to sum up the thing.
  • State the thing in the positive.
  • Focus and reinforce that 1 thing till the break-through.

I suppose Charlotte Mason’s instruction on habit training helped focus this.  She says,

“It is necessary that the mother be always on the alert to nip in the bud the bad habit her children may be in the act of picking up from others.” (Vol. 1, p. 118)


Expect prompt, cheerful obedience. “It is enough to say, ‘Do this,’ in a quiet, authoritative tone, and expect it to be done … The child should be daily confirming a habit of obedience by the unbroken repetition of acts of obedience.” (Vol. 1, p. 162-163)

I wondered how to approach this with my children, but the opportunity presented itself individually as my normal parenting occurred.  A situation where the weakness was plain happened.  I smiled gently and took the plunge – “There is just 1 thing I want you to think about right now: just this 1 thing ~ …”

And I described it simply.  Just used a few words.  In fact, I kept shrinking all the words till 1 word could sum it all up. (For example it could be: “Hang up your wet bath towel after you have dressed” becomes, “Hang up wet towels” and finally becomes, “Towel”.)  I kept it totally positiveDo-able.

Then we did it together.  I watched to make sure it was done as I wanted it done.  I smiled.

“Yes, that is right.  We will keep at this 1 thing till it is always right, ok?”

My youngest got it.  She and I agreed that discipline would stay private, but that I could remind her by saying, “Remember, that 1 thing.”

So far, this week, I have used that slogan a few times.  I know that it is fresh and still funny.

But it works.

Without speeches, lectures (and I am so good/bad at those!) or debates, they get the message.

Their message.

Each one’s “thing” is different.

At this moment I am focussing on their characters.

But it will work with training in any area; character training, schooling, relationships, personal habits, routines.

It may be about ~

  • how they do the work,
  • not needing reminding,
  • following through in the task without disruptions,
  • doing the task the right way the first time,
  • their promptness,
  • their attitude while doing the task …

I am so grateful to the Lord for His grace and loving-kindness towards me.  He keeps working on all my missing and broken parts until I become His Handiwork.

How do you simplify the enormous task of training your children?

Comments welcome!


24 thoughts on “Just this 1 Thing!

  1. Pingback: On Track with Habit Training? « Practical Pages

  2. Such encouraging words to me. I’m with Rachel, I have said one too many words in time past. I must try this, thanks.


  3. Oh, Nadene, how many times the Lord has spoken to my heart “this one thing” or “let’s start here” when I am overwhelmed. Now you’ve led me to see that I need to speak those same encouraging words to my children. I’ve seen their eyes glaze over when I’ve gone one word too many.

    This is always a fruitful visit.


  4. Pingback: Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Education Is a Discipline, Vol. 1 – Simply Charlotte Mason

  5. God certainly directed me to your website this morning. I have been experiencing burn-out. I am a (retired elementary schoolteacher) grandmother who homeschools 3 grandchildren – ages 12, 6 and 5, with a 3 year old added to the mix. For the past little while, I have been on the verge of tears all day long. Yesterday was the worst. This morning I read your inspirational blog and God spoke to me so clearly. I will “close my school” for a couple of weeks, take time to re-charge, take time to listen to God, and pick one thing for each child that I want to work on (with their involvement). Thanks so much for your part in my healing.


  6. I always appreciate your posts, but this one spoke to me today. I can even relate to the bath towels!! 🙂 Now I am thinking of what that one thing can be for each of my children and am anxious to implement it. Thank you!


  7. I try to remember that if my children do not attend to my words, then nothing is going to go well. So . . . I try to put “attending” as a primary goal in our day. (My children are currently 9,6,4, and 1.)


    • It always comes down to retraining me when I want to start a new habit. I have to make up my mind what exactly I want and then follow through on that one thing as long as it takes. So many times it is easier for me to do it myself when I really just need to retrain myself to stop and give my children a specific task. “You need to practice your violin for ten minutes.” “You need to put the knives on the proper side of the plate.” “You need to finish your math lesson before lunch.” My children always do better when they have a beginning and an end to a new habit.

      Lovely post, will be thinking about it tonight.


      • @Barb, excellent points – Training does have to start with us! Having a beginning and an end is an interesting concept. Children love to know what they must do and feel good about themselves when they complete it correctly. Closure produces such satisfaction. Thanks for adding more to this topic.


    • @Noelle, Inspiring goal! In Prov 2:1,2 the Lord exhorts us to find wisdom and understanding; “Receive my words and treasure my commands within you,” and “Apply your heart to understanding.” Attending is a foundation to all understanding, isn’t it? And I’m sure creative moms can make learning this skill fun with some quick practice games! 🙂


  8. Yes, Nadene,
    That 1 thing! In regards to personal habits or daily routines, I’ve broken up our “school” year into 4 terms. At the beginning of the year I’ll assess what task I want them to become proficient/independent in for each term. This could be the emptying of the dishwasher, or wiping up the bathroom counter after use, or making bed neatly. Then we focus on that 1 thing, working on it daily until it has become a habit. Even if it seems like they’ve got that task down as a habit before the end of the term, I won’t start up another task until the next term begins. We just enjoy life running smoothly along those rails in the meantime.

    This certainly prevents being overwhelmed for myself and my boys!

    I haven’t broken it down to 1 word though! Will have to try that as boys tend to tune out after the third word.



    • @Diane, I love your “life running smoothly along those rails”! Isn’t that the goal? Sticking with one thing till they are proficient is excellent. Thanks 🙂


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