Sunday, August 9, 2015

How to Break your Kids’ Bad Habits


Bad habits.
  They start small.  Then, they kind of creep up on you and intensify until you suddenly realize:


THIS IS A PROBLEM!


I don’t know how it started, but somewhere along the way, I started letting my kids have snacks while sitting on the couch and watching television. First, it was a piece of fruit. Then, it was a piece of fruit and a graham cracker...and so on. Then I noticed crumbs were getting in between the couch and, even worse, my kids were constantly wanting me to get them something else to eat while they were watching their television program. 

In the process, they were making a mess and driving me crazy.

So I decided it was time to break this bad habit.

Here’s what I did:

We don’t have cable. So, we have a set amount of time for my kids to watch a few shows on Netflix.

Before my kids started watching television, I would make sure they sat down at the table and ate a large snack. If it was near lunchtime, we would eat lunch. Then, I asked them if they were still hungry. I made sure to tell them that once we started the show, we wouldn’t be eating or drinking anymore...unless they wanted water of course.

And it worked.
(
Of course, kids are kids. I won't pretend my kids never ask for something to eat but the problem is much, much better). I had to make sure my husband was on the same page too.  


As a result, my house, at least in the TV viewing area, has fewer crumbs.


In addition, now we can watch a movie together, without being interrupted, or I can get some chores or writing done. 


Breaking bad habits isn’t always easy to do, but it is possible. Tweet this:
http://ctt.ec/fO3WJ


Here are a few more tips that have helped me break my kids’ bad habits:

Be Careful about Setting a Precedent

Kids have pretty good memories. One time, I went to the frozen yogurt shop after going to the store. Of course, from then on,  every time I went to that store, my daughter asked to get frozen yogurt, even if it was 8:00 in the morning. While I quickly taught my daughter that we wouldn’t be getting frozen yogurt every time we went to the store, I often think about this incident before acting. As parents, we have to be careful about setting a precedent. If we give our kids candy for rewards, we might be setting our children up to expect sweets for good behavior. Thus, be careful about setting precedents. After all, once we allow these bad habits to form, it is much harder to break them.

Be Consistent

When trying to break a bad habit, I realize have to be consistent.  I can’t let my kids eat snacks on the couch one day and then get mad when they want a snack the next day.

Be Clear

Setting up clear expectations is important. My kids now know that before they watch a show, they need to eat. Using tools such as chore charts and incentive (a.k.a sticker) charts have gone a long way for helping my kids clean up without me having to repeat myself over and over again.

Use Praise

If I’m trying to break a bad habit such as my kids leaving their clothes on the ground, I make sure to use a lot of positive praise when they pick up their clothes on their own.  

Ignore It and Redirect

As a child, I used to bite my nails. However, it was something I grew out of naturally. I have found the same thing applies with my kids. Some habits such as hair twirling or finger sucking may be bothersome. However, unless your child seems to be adversely affected (for example, if you think they might get a nail infection), the University of Michigan Health System, recommends “ignoring” it. After all, children often do these behaviors when they are “stressed, bored, tired, frustrated, unhappy, insecure, or falling asleep.” If you notice your child is bored, give them an activity to do or something to play with.

Don’t Expect Things to Change Overnight

Bad habits can take time to break. Don’t get frustrated if those horrible habits don’t go away immediately.

So, what are some of your kids’ worst habits?  How did you (or how do you plan to) break these bad habits?  Tell me in the comments!

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