Welcome back to The Power of Simple Habits!
In the first lesson I taught about how habits are stored in our brains, as well as the three parts of a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward.
Even though habits are usually formed automatically by a brain trying to save space, we can intentionally create new habits, and we can change old habits.
In the previous lessons, I shared the brain science behind creating a brand new habit, which we applied to family breakfast time. We also talked about how to change an old habit like a child’s bedtime.
WE NEED THIS SPECIAL KIND OF HABIT
But sometimes it’s just too hard to start a new habit, or too daunting to think about changing an entire bedtime routine.
That’s when we turn to keystone habits.
Keystone habits are very simple habits that have the power to unlock huge changes in your life.
In “the power of habit”, Charles Duhigg talks about a study where the researchers simply asked overeaters to write down what they ate, once per week. That’s so absurdly simple that it doesn’t seem like it would make a difference. But over time, some of the participants starting writing down their food intake more than once a week, they starting writing meal plans, and they started writing healthy grocery lists. And they were losing weight.
The researchers didn’t ask them to do anything else but write down their food intake one day per week, but:
- this was a simple win that made participants realize that bigger changes were possible,
- it created a structure for other habits to flourish, and
- it created a culture of healthy living.
A FAMILY FAITH KEYSTONE HABIT
I consider praying nightly Biblical blessings over your child to be a keystone habit.
There are three reasons that keystone habits cause this ripple effect in your life.
1) Keystone habits offer small wins that make us realize that bigger changes are possible.
Praying a nightly blessing over your child is as simple as taping a Bible verse to the wall above your child’s bed, then reading that verse out loud to your child.
It’s so simple that for the longest time I knew it had power but I could not figure out why.
It was only when I discovered this “keystone habit” idea that I realized WHY it was so powerful. It’s a small win. It’s easy. Anyone can do it. You can keep doing it even when you’re super busy.
>>RELATED READING: The Easiest Parenting Habit With The Greatest Eternal Impact
A friend of mine started praying the same Bible verse over each of her 4 kids each night after learning about this habit from a class I taught at church. Over time, she noticed that they were sleeping better, and waking up happier. Because their mornings were better, she able to start reading the Bible with them in the mornings, which shifted to become a 20 minute time of teaching and conversation.
She never could have predicted that kind of change in her family’s life when she started praying a simple verse over her kids each night! But it was a small win and gave her hope that bigger changes were in reach.
2) Keystone habits create structures for other habits to flourish.
In the last lesson, I outlined a bedtime routine that we use in our home. Praying a Bible verse over our child has become the keystone habit that ends the routine every.single.time and signals to our boys that it’s time to go to sleep.
It places God’s word in his mind and heart, which helps him sleep peacefully, and helps everyone end the routine with love and kindness instead of hurry and irritation.
This simple habit created a structure for other habits to flourish, including a nightly devotional or Bible discussion time.
Another of the moms from my church was praying the same verse over her son for years. This boy had some special needs and he was never supposed to be able to memorize and apply knowledge because his brain was damaged in that area. But this keystone habit created a structure in his life and in his brain, and he was able to not only memorize the verse that his mom prayed over him but apply it to his little sister’s life! When she was afraid of something, he would remind her of the verse.
This is something his brain was never supposed to do. But this keystone habit literally rewired his brain in this small way, giving his mom hope that bigger changes were possible.
3) Last, keystone habits create a culture where new habits become ingrained.
Praying a nightly Bible verse over your child might not look like much on the outside. But it creates a culture in your family. Your child learns that the Bible is important, that God is important, and that both have a direct effect on their life. Parent after parent has told me how their kids consistently remind them that they need to bless them at bedtime.
Why? Because it has created a culture of faith.
And this new culture of faith spills over in other aspects of your life. Once you’ve started praying blessings and creating that culture of faith in your family, you might start reading the Bible at the dinner table or praying for your kids on the way to school, or your bedtime routine might grow to include Bible study.
You’ve created a culture and expectation of deep faith.
The Bible has become normalized in your family, so deeper faith conversation can happen more naturally. You now have a platform for those harder conversations, a platform you’ve created by consistently doing this one little thing.
To recap, praying a nightly blessing over your child is a keystone family faith habit for three reasons:
- It gives you a small, easy win that shows that bigger change is possible
- It creates a structure for other habits to flourish
- It creates a culture of faith in your home
If you’re not already praying a nightly blessing over your child, I have a download below that you can print off, and hang over your child’s bed.
Tonight, end your bedtime routine by reading it over your child. If you would like more direction in starting this habit, here’s a link to sign up for my 7-day blessings challenge.
In it, I share about the Biblical basis behind this habit, how to do it, how it can help with anxiety and nightmares, and I give you some more posters you can print off and hang above your child’s bed.
IN THE NEXT POST:
There’s one crucial ingredient that makes habit change possible, and I haven’t mentioned it at all yet. Read or watch the final post in this series to find out what it is!