How to Help Children Form Better Habits

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Do you often feel frustrated about your child’s bad habits and defeated when it’s hard for them to transition into good ones? 

Forming positive habits have value from childhood through adulthood. While it may be challenging to help your child establish good habits, by prioritizing better habits, you are setting them up for success in life. 

There are specific techniques that have proven effective when establishing good habits, whether it’s transitioning between playtime and bath time, completing nightly homework, or cleaning up a play space.

Helping your child form healthy habits is a vital part of parenting. For help with regulating your child’s emotions around habit forming, discover BLOOM’s course on Self Confidence.

The Importance of Habits for Children

Habits are important for both children and adults. Habits teach children to take responsibility, keep themselves motivated, and boost their self-esteem. Depending on your child's age, start by discussing with your children what specific habits they would like to develop and help them identify which ones to focus on at a given time.

Habits are a cycle–cue, action, and reward. Supporting your child to work on healthy habits from a young age teaches them that they can create their own success. The longer they do something, the more ingrained it becomes, and the easier it is to pick up even more healthy habits later on.

Habits can relate to healthy eating, cleaning, working on schoolwork, bathing, and much more. Habits can play an essential role in multiple aspects of your child’s life–just as they do as an adult–including mental and physical health, productivity, relationships, and self-esteem. 

The best part about habits? It’s never too late to build new, helpful habits and change habits that no longer align with your family’s needs. 

How to Create Good Habits in Children

When creating good habits, practicing the new strategy or behavior is important before implementing it. Be sure not to practice the new habit when you need to use it. 

For example, do not practice getting into the bath when it’s bath time. Practice getting into the tub when it’s not a stressful time, whether earlier in the day, giving yourself more time, or when other children are not vying for your attention. This gives your child the time and practice to master newly acquired habits. Practice this new habit for approximately 21 days, which is sufficient time to build new habits. Practicing the new rule for 21 days allows your child to adapt to it and makes it easier for them to follow it when necessary–in fact, the 21 days do not need to be consecutive to form a new habit. 

5 Tips to Help With Better Habits

  1. Create a routine–children, like adults, like to know what they can expect. Especially for children who struggle with difficult transitions, establishing and maintaining a consistent daily routine for the big activities each day (i.e. eat times, bedtime, etc) helps moderate their behavior when they know what activity to expect next. 
  2. Keep it simple–while giving your children the tools to manage transitions is helpful, think about where you can simplify your daily routine to minimize unnecessary ones. 
  3. Explain the “why”--before the transition happens; prepare your children by explaining why you will be entering a transition period. “In ten minutes, we’ll get in the bathtub to clean the mud off from playing outside today!” This helps your child associate a reason for the transition. 
  4. Model good habits–first and foremost, our children learn by watching and listening to us (the parent or caregiver!). Model the behavior you want your children to have around transition times so they can learn how to behave from your example. For example, if you’re busy cleaning up and you need to transition to doing homework with your child, you can say, “It’s hard for me to stop cleaning up and sit to do homework, so I’m going to take a drink along with me or hold something in my hand to help me.” 
  5. Reward good behavior–establishing a reward system is also beneficial to help form healthy habits. For example, children could be given treats, nick nacks, or other incentives to habituate the new habit. 

Improve Your Child’s Habits With BLOOM

Although establishing good habits seems daunting, it can be made easier with intentional strategies and consistency.  Remember: children are always learning. Creating a consistent routine, keeping it simple, explaining why things are happening, modeling desired behavior and celebrating when children master a task are all great ways to encourage better habits in your children.

Whether you have a toddler struggling with tantrums or establishing daily habits or a teenager with challenging communication preferences, BLOOM is here to support your family and your child. Discover tools to help your child with emotional control and regulation so that you can support them in forming positive habits. Watch the first course video free by clicking here

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