All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits,—practical, emotional, and intellectual,—systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be. __ William James in 1892
Our habits make us who we are. Once learned, these habits tend to be unconscious from start to finish. Clearly it is best to learn good habits well, beginning in childhood. Habits of thought, habits of action — the principle is the same.
The typical “habit loop” consists of a “cue” — a “craving” — a “routine” — and a “reward.” Something inside or outside of us triggers a conscious or unconscious cue. This cue calls up a craving which then motivates us to perform a routine. Successful performance of the routine results in a reward. To set good habits for young children, we need to exercise some ingenuity to make the learning of good habits as easy as possible.
Making a New Habit Easy
Jim Cathcart’s tale of the running shoes:
I needed an action that I knew I could get myself to do, so I set a minimum commitment: Even if I could not make myself run every day, at least I could make myself available for a run. I grabbed a piece of paper, picked up my pen, and wrote, “I will put on my jogging shoes and walk outside to the curb every day, no matter what else is going on.” __ The Self-Motivation Handbook by Jim Cathcart
By setting an easy goal, Jim Cathcart built a lifelong habit of health and fitness that served him for 30 years and counting. Once he was at the curb with his jogging shoes on, it was easy to walk or run some distance on suitable days. This allowed him to drop 30 pounds to his ideal weight, and maintain ideal weight ever since.
BJ Fogg’s tale of dental floss:
I asked myself: How can I make flossing easier to do?
I came up with an answer I didn’t dare tell my hygienist. She would have been horrified.
I decided to floss just one tooth.
After I brushed my teeth in the morning I would floss just one tooth. __ BJ Fogg in Tiny Habits
Once you have flossed one tooth, it is easy to floss the rest.
James Clear’s “Make it Easy” advice on habits:
Habits are easier to build when they fit into the flow of your life. You are more likely to go to the gym if it is on your way to work . . .
The central idea is to create an environment where doing the right thing is as easy as possible. Much of the battle of building better habits comes down to finding ways to [make good habits easier and bad habits harder].
Making the Habit Cue Easy and Obvious Reinforces the Behaviour
Putting a full bottle/thermos of water in plain sight and within easy reach makes it more likely that it will be used. The same principle applies to a toothbrush, a bath towel, dish-washing tools, or any other useful cue that helps to encourage a good habit.
Below is another way to look at the habit loop with the emphasis on the “hook” concept that is popular in writing, advertising, public speaking, and political/religious/military recruiting. In this approach, finishing the “habit lazy eight” with an investment, the author turns the loop into a growth tool.
The trigger is the actuator of a behavior—the spark plug in the Hook Model. Triggers come in two types: external and internal.
After the trigger comes the intended action.
Research shows that levels of dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Introducing variability multiplies the effect, creating a frenzied hunting state, activating the parts associated with wanting and desire. Although classic examples include slot machines and lotteries, variable rewards are prevalent in habit-forming technologies as well.
The last phase of the Hook is where the user is asked to do bit of work… now that the user’s brain is swimming in dopamine from the anticipation of reward in the previous phase, it’s time to pay some bills.
This approach to habit formation was new to me, but I am beginning to see that what I first thought was a “lazy eight” is actually an infinity sign. Just as in a loop, the infinity loop feeds back into itself, but it includes an “investment” step that raises the performance bar for the next time through — hence the reference to infinity (as in “approaching infinity”).
Remember, once habits are learned they tend to remain largely unconscious as long they fit smoothly into your routine. Newer habits are built on top of older habits or work alongside. Sometimes a new habit will displace an older habit if it seems to serve a purpose in a better way.
Since habit formation is such a crucial part of raising a child, we will be spending more time with the underlying ideas — and findings from cognitive science research that further our understanding of the underlying concepts of habit formation and dissolution.
So far as we are thus mere bundles of habit, we are stereotyped creatures, imitators and copiers of our past selves. And since this, under any circumstances, is what we always tend to become, it follows first of all that the teacher’s prime concern should be to ingrain into the pupil that assortment of habits that shall be most useful to him throughout life. Education is for behavior, and habits are the stuff of which behavior consists. __ William James
Christina backs up each of her recommendations with scientific sources. None of the advice is bad. I have put a star next to the items which seem particularly good overall.
Below you will find an assortment of other snippets of advice from Christina. Feel free to apply it or not, according to your own situation. The idea is to listen to strategies that work for a variety of people, just in case something they do will also work for you.
Take small but concrete steps to turn large visions into reality
“Large visions or dreams can be very daunting, which is why so many people will live their lives without even attempting to realize them. I have found that taking small but concrete steps towards my visions leads to relatively quick and tangible rewards.
If it can be done in a minute, do it now
“The best productivity advice I’ve received (and put into practice every day) is that if something comes across your desk that will take less than 60 seconds to complete, do it immediately.
Set aside a few minutes each night to reflect on all of the day’s events
“As I do so, I jot down in a journal the biggest takeaways from each day in an effort to retain lessons learned.
Say no often
“Focus on the trade-off. The more I think about what I’m giving up when I say ‘yes’ to something, the easier it is to say ‘no.’
Schedule time for self-care, both physically and mentally
“I specifically designate time in my calendar each day to work some sort of physical activity into my afternoon, and I prefer to spend this time alone. Whether through a full workout or simply a walk around the perimeter of the office, I find that being on my own during this time helps me think clearly without distractions.
Make the bed
“Making the bed each morning is the easiest way to start your day with a win.
“I regularly invest 15 minutes in a day to talk with someone whom I typically wouldn’t talk with but is related or has some interest in something I am focused on–this could be either professionally or personally.
Make time for music
“Keeping a positive attitude about work is important to me. Positivity helps you better connect with colleagues, customers, and partners, and it makes you more memorable in their eyes. To stay positive, I make time for music every day.
Get outside your comfort zone
“Embrace the unexpected and pursue the unfamiliar. I try to do, read, listen to, watch (or even eat) something new every day. Whether that’s related to my professional development or personal enjoyment. I’ve observed over my career that those who are able to draw from a vast base of knowledge or variety of experiences have an advantage.
Read before picking up a device
“Every morning, before reaching for any electronic devices, I like to read for 30-40 minutes, generally books on philosophy or a good biography. Most recently, I read Seneca: Letters from a Stoic.”
Stretch, breathe, swim, and set goals
“It’s important to have a clear mind each morning in order to have the most productive day possible. I wake up each morning and have 15 minutes to myself to stretch and be aware of my breathing to relax my mind. Afterwards, I get my body moving by swimming for 30 minutes in order to increase my mental wellness, improve blood flow, and get ready to tackle the day.
Remember the difference between a productive innovator and an executive decision maker. Christina’s advice in the article above suggests that she is more of an executive decision maker, constantly distracted by meetings, interruptions, and memos. Deep-working innovators and creators will have a slightly different approach to getting things done.
It is hard enough raising an ordinary child to be successful. How much harder it is to raise a Dangerous Child, with all the sharp but polished edges that implies. So first learn the basics well, then refine your approach with the greater project in mind.
The spirit and determination for a successful life must come from within the child — you cannot provide it. But you can provide the wisdom of your experience to help shape and nurture that spirit and determination as it grows and becomes manifest. __ Source
11 Micah gets going at 06:30, when most classmates are still sleeping off a late night of video games and social media.
Micah Amezquita is not like most sixth graders.
The 11-year-old recently started his own trash-can-toting business to make money so that he can start saving for college and become an aeronautical engineer.
His fledgling business, Curb Cans, provides the service of taking garbage and recycling bins to the curb and back again on trash day. Every Tuesday morning, Amezquita heads out in his neighborhood between 6:30 and 8 to take care of business before school.
Like most small businesses, Micah’s operation started slowly, and is building gradually. He is hard-working and positive, and is not afraid to set goals and follow through on them. These are qualities that most successful businessmen share.
Traits that Parents Should Encourage
1. Early Maturation — Early maturation puts people in the position to socialize with older, more established people. From mentorship to business dealings, a young mature person has more potential of being welcomed by successful people, resulting in exposure to real world dilemmas and an aspirational lifestyle early on.
2. Perseverance — Perseverance. Persistence. Tenacity. Whatever word you want to use, this trait is the most important to have if you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter who you are or what company you started, I can guarantee that you’re going to face some low points and have days when you feel alone. When those days come, it’s the determination to reach a high point again that will get you to achieve your goals.
3. The Ability to Put Things in Perspective — Childhood adversity helps entrepreneurs keep things in perspective. When you think about it, experiencing real-life hardship makes all the other problems in life seem minute in comparison. Well, when running a startup you always need to keep things in perspective. From missing your target sales numbers to having key employees leave, problems will always arise and require you to put them in perspective not only for yourself, but your team as well.
4. Having Self Control — Playing off the ability to put things in perspective, childhood adversity most likely drummed up some extreme internal emotions that may never be provoked again. Although too much childhood adversity has correlation to opposite traits of these, most of the entrepreneurs that I know who faced something early on are able to express an incredible level of self-control. Making sacrifices, having difficult conversations, and locking in on your goal are all aspects that I’ve seen exemplified by successful entrepreneurs first hand. Source
Successful Small Business Ideas Vary With Time and Place
For many years, children could make extra money with a newspaper route, babysitting, a lemonade or cupcake stand, or other such modest and traditional endeavours. Times have changed, governments are more intrusive, and successful childhood entrepreneurs need to learn to work around the obstacles and red tape.
But sometimes it helps to look back at the money-making niches that earlier generations utilised:
To earn money, people:
1. Caught and sold fish, clams, and crabs
2. Made homemade fudge and sold it
3. Sold newspapers on the corner. Kids earned a little extra if they were promoted to “Corner Captain”, a sort of Great Depression multi-level marketing program where a kid brought in other kids to sell papers and earned a bit extra himself.
4. Started a lunch truck/wagon
5. Grew, picked, and sold berries
6. Road work
7. Shoveled snow on roads
8. Multiple part-time jobs, including housecleaning
9. Chopped wood or harvested driftwood
10. Made and sold handwoven baskets
11. Mowed lawns and other kinds of yard work
12. Door to door sales of things like shoes or sewing notions
13. Made deliveries for stores
14. Made and sold quilts
15. Sold homemade baked goods, like bread or pies
16. Sold eggs for 25 cents a dozen
18. Rented out rooms
19. Mended or altered clothes
20. Washed windows
21. Would purchase produce and re-sell door-to-door
22. Sold apples
23. Loaded coal
24. Piecework sewing
25. Sold homegrown produce
In every case it was a simple matter of looking around to see what people needed, what they wanted, what made them feel good about themselves and about life.
If people could coax money out of cash-strapped people in a depression, teaching a child to start and run a business in today’s perpetual Obama recession should be a snap!
Kids Need to Build Skills and Competencies to be Successful Child Entrepreneurs
Learning the skills of business is something that takes place both before and after the business is underway. All kinds of practical skills should be learned and mastered before the child even begins to sort through business ideas. Budgeting and money management come before starting a business. But the more practical skills a child instinctively knows, the more versatile his entrepreneurial ventures can be.
There is no need to re-invent the wheel here. Groups and organisations exist for teaching practical and useful skills to children:
Clothing & Textile Science – Learn basic sewing skills, personalize clothing, make clothing from patterns and more. Projects range from first-time beginners to advanced clothing design and construction masters.
Cooking Projects – Beginner to Advanced levels. Learn about cooking, nutrition, food safety information and get creative with recipes of all kinds, including baking breads, meal planning and grilling.
Gardening & Plant Science – Learn how to grow your own vegetables and preserve your own food through canning and freezing methods.
The Natural World – Learn how to explore the outdoors by learning about plants, trees and insects that live in the woods, streams and fields. Learn trapping, fishing and beekeeping.
Shooting Sports – Learn safe use of guns and basic archery.
Mechanics – Learn about small engines, tractors and machinery operations.
Woodworking – Learn how to use various woodworking tools along with basic tools to build wood projects.
Here is useful list of helpful life skills for kids from Survival Mom:
create a shopping list
find the best deals
use a microwave
read nutrition labels and know what’s good and what’s not
prepare, serve and store food to avoid spoilage
cook a well-balanced meal
know which kitchen tools and equipment to use for which tasks
make a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it
use an ATM
open, use and balance a checking account
apply for a credit card and use it responsibly
save up to buy a desired item
set aside money for charity
keep track of important papers
how to use a debit card
pay monthly bills, including utilities
complete simple repairs when needed
sew on a button
mend a seam
fold and put away clothing
follow fabric-care labels
do laundry, including treating simple stains
wash and dry items by hand
pack a suitcase
able to clean the house
find the circuit breaker and use it
locate and use water and furnace shutoffs
use a fire extinguisher
perform basic first aid
fix a running toilet
do laundry, including treating simple stains
use all household appliances, like loading the dishwasher the right way
basic auto maintenance
check tire pressure
check oil level and add oil if needed
check washer fluid and add more if necessary
arrange routine maintenance
add air to tires
produce documents if stopped by police
know what to look for in buying their first car
Other Life Skills
change a mailing address
register to vote
how to vote
who to call and what to do in emergency situations
basic first aid or CPR
how to apply for a job
how to select proper clothing for an interview
what to look for in a first apartment
who to contact to turn on utilities
where to have a document notarized
how to use public transportation
A large number of quasi-functioning adults have not mastered these skills. And many others may be able to do the tasks, but cannot be bothered for the most part. This natural ignorance or laziness on the part of much of the population opens up huge niches for child entrepreneurs to meet unmet needs and desires.
The lists above barely scrape the surface, but parents can begin to get the idea. Humans have an infinite number of unmet needs and wishes. The person who can supply those things economically in a timely fashion is apt to get more business than they can handle. At that point, the child entrepreneur will learn to delegate, utilise independent contractors, or learn to deal with “employees.”
Sure, parents and child-entrepreneurs will need to learn to jump any governmental hoops that they cannot avoid altogether. But there is no need to dump the bodies of over-zealous government functionaries in abandoned coal mines in order to co-exist with absurd government rules and regulations. A bit of forethought and cooperation between child entrepreneurs, their parents, and sympathetic businesspersons should provide the working space needed to survive in an age of government over-reach.
Dangerous Children Master at Least 3 Ways to Support Themselves Financially by Age 18
Most of the niche business ideas mentioned above will not provide reliable and consistent financial support for an independent adult over time. But they will provide invaluable experience in budgeting, handling money, devising business plans, dealing with people, and developing resilience in business.
At the same time as they are building their business skills-experiences-reputations, they are also learning needed academic lessons, developing Dangerous Skills and Competencies, acquiring helpful credentials, developing emotional resilience, and making a range of plans on different time scales for their futures.
After age 18 Dangerous Children will use their financial independence to build their base of operations, to further their education in the professions and other highly skilled sectors, to travel and learn new cultures – languages – ways of life, to raise families and new generations of Dangerous Children, to liaise with other Dangerous Children to form Dangerous Communities, and to otherwise work toward an abundant and expansive human future.
We are living in an age of impractical and perpetually incompetent adolescents of all ages. Children typically go through school and graduate from high school or college with no practical skills or experiences. Whatever parents may be thinking when they send their children off to be abused by institutions, the results are turning out very badly.
Here at the Dangerous Child Institute, we are merely seeking to provide an alternative approach to education and child-raising that provides children and youth with a lifetime confidence based upon stacked competencies — beginning very early in childhood. Most people are not ready for us. All the more reason to get started.