“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
Developing positive habits in children has proven to be one of the most powerful tools as they move toward becoming responsible adults. When it comes to raising children, instilling positive habits in early childhood is a crucial task. It not only helps the child absorb them faster but also lays the foundation for your child’s future success and happiness. In fact studies have shown that habits learnt by children by age 9 become almost permanent and difficult to change as they grow up.
As parents, we know children are like sponges. They take in everything from their environment. It's important then to keep in mind what they are exposed to and to check bad habits at their roots.
Here are some key tips on how to inculcate good habits in your children:
- Model Positive Habits: The first step to developing positive habits in early childhood is to model them yourself. Children learn best by example. If you want your child to develop healthy habits, it’s important to demonstrate those habits yourself. This means having regular eating and sleeping habits, being physically active, and taking time to relax and enjoy life as a family.
- Set Routines: Routines are a great way to help children develop positive habits. Routines provide structure and consistency, which can help children feel secure and confident. Establishing regular routines for meals, playtime, and bedtime can help your child develop healthy habits and learn to manage their time. It’s great to involve them in the process as well.
- Encourage them: Encouraging children by being involved in their activities can be building blocks to developing positive habits. Make sure to provide your child with nutritious food, encourage physical activity, and limit screen time. Eg.- when they are small reading aloud to them will make them want to read too as they get older.
- Replace bad habits: Instead of punishing them or resorting to anger, all bad habits can be replaced or understood. If your child is sucking his thumb to sleep, it's best to understand the root cause, explain the negative consequences of it, and give them an alternative such as sleeping with a stuffed toy instead.
- Keep it simple: Start small. It's important for the habits to be easy for the child to follow. From simple manners like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to brushing their teeth regularly, all these simple tasks will take time but with repetition be absorbed in the child’s ecosystem.
- Help them understand the logic: When things are explained to children as to why they need to be done, they are more likely to follow. Instead of the activities being a one-sided command, it's good to have conversations about why they need to do what they need to do. Eg. - if you want your child to eat more green veggies, explain to them how it will make them stronger.
- Use positive reinforcements: Everything that gets rewarded gets repeated. And habits are only formed by repetition. Using positive reinforcements such as praise, a hug or giving them brownie points can all help in making the child excited about learning and repeating good habits.
- Keep room for mistakes: There may be some days your child does not follow through, or worse enough throws a tantrum. It’s good to remember it's a part of growing up. Children are more logical than we give them credit for and just a conversation and understanding their perception may help in understanding why they are resorting to this behavior.
As parents, we tend to have a certain level of expectation from our children. It's good to remember every child is different and grows at their own pace. The point is to have fun while instilling good habits in them. As long as we maintain a positive attitude in the house and be good role models, we can be sure of our children on their way to become responsible and happy citizens of the world.