Sharing these more in-depth posts feels a little odd after writing journal style for month. I enjoy these though, because they are rooted in topics I’m interested in and have researched to try and bring more success to my own parenting. I hope you find them interesting and helpful! Check out more on my Parenting Page.
As parents it’s our role to help our children shape good habits that will allow them to grow into confident, productive, healthy adults. By helping our kids build good habits, we can set them up for a lifetime of success.
We play a huge role in helping our kids build good habits. We already have helped them build the habits that they have now (good or bad 😉). We’re the ones that established their existing routine and we’re one they see modeling our own habits day in and day out. Thankfully, this responsibility also gives us the perfect podium from which to help our kids adopt and build good habits.
How to help your kids build good habits
This is a big one. Habits are not formed overnight. It takes time and it takes patience. If our kids sense that we’re getting frustrated with them when they don’t pick up a new habit right away, they’ll probably resist learning. We need to try and approach any new habit with patience and understanding. Go at your kid’s speed and know the more relaxed you are, the less stressed they’ll be and the easier it will be for them to adopt a new habit.
Be a good role model
More is caught than taught has always been a favorite parenting mantra of mine. We may want our kids to develop healthy habits, but they won’t do it if we’re not doing it ourselves. If your child sees you reading, chances are they’re going to want to read too. Tips for raising kids that love to read. If they see you enjoying the vegetables on your plate then they’re more likely to dig in with enthusiasm.
However, the opposite is also true. If you never brush your teeth or wash your hands, there’s not much of a chance that your kid will either. If there’s a healthy habit you want your child to learn the best place to start is by modeling that behavior in your own life. Just seeing you do it might be enough to get your kid interested in trying it themselves.
Create a schedule and a routine
One of the best ways to add a new habit into your child’s life is to piggy-back it off of an existing one. This is also known as habit stacking.
For example, if your child has already developed the habit of having a bath right before they sleep this is the perfect opportunity to add in a habit you’d like them to develop. You could get them to start brushing their teeth before or after their bath. They’ll begin to associate bath time with brushing their teeth time and this can help them learn a new habit much quicker. Adding in another habit such as getting in their pajamas and reading a book can create a train of healthy habits.
You can also help them know what’s expected of them by creating a schedule. Check out the free My Day printable here. You can form the schedule around natural events that occur at roughly the same time every day such as getting up, meal times and going to bed. Clustering little habits around these parts of the day can help our kids learn good habits.
Reward them as they learn
Positive reinforcement can make a big difference in how quickly your kids build good habits. While raising intrinsically motivated kids is a goal of mine, there are still times when a reward is helpful to help solidify a behavior into a habit.
If you get excited and praise them when they do the behavior, you’re trying to teach them they’re a lot more likely to try and repeat that behavior. And as you know, a repeated behavior turns into a habit.
I’ve found it best to steer clear of offering material rewards such as food and toys. If your child sees food as a reward this could set them up for unhealthy habits in the future. Instead, we choose rewards such as hugs, fun activities, and honestly, just sincere praise. We also use screen time tokens because I found that is what my kids value most right now.
Re-evaluate existing habits
Sometimes the habits our kids have developed don’t need to be changed, they just need to be tweaked. For every habit there’s a cue that tells your child it’s time to begin an established routine or activity, and a reward for them completing that behavior.
For example, if you child needs reminding to wash their hands after going potty (speaking from personal experience here), the cue is flushing the toilet. The reward for not washing hands was getting out of the bathroom faster. So I took the same cue (the flush) and instead created a new reward. I let her pick out the scent of soap we should put in the bathroom, and it made a huge difference! The cue was the same, but a new behavior developed because of a new reward. Instead of speed of exit, she got hands that smelled the way she wanted them to.
Sound silly? Maybe, but it worked!
Suggestions for good habits you can start building in with your kids
There are a lot of good habits that we want our kids to develop for later on in life but we should keep it simple and stick with the basics while they’re young. Here are some examples of great habits you can build with your kids.
General hygiene-baths, washing their face, washing their hands, brushing their teeth and combing their hair are all simple activities you can teach your child while they’re young that will keep them healthy and happy. The best part is, most of these habits can be bundled together into a train of habits that’ll make them easier for your child to remember and stick with!
Healthy eating-by modeling healthy eating for your child you can help them develop lasting healthy eating habits. We are in charge of the the food in our homes. We need to take advantage of it while they are young! Exposing our children to healthy foods early in life can train their taste buds to enjoy the flavor and texture of these foods for the rest of their lives.
Physical activity-most kids don’t need any encouragement to run around and play. However, you can encourage this habit by joining in on the fun, limiting screen time, and introducing them to a variety of sports. Or grab a couple of these super fun outdoor toys!
Building new habits with our kids might seem dauting at first, but if we remain patient and allow our children to go at their own pace, we’ll find success. Learning is fun for most kids so we just need to take advantage of this enthusiasm to help our kids create good habits that’ll last a lifetime.