Children are impressionable, and the things they absorb in childhood can have a long-lasting effect on their life. Habits developed in childhood can change the way they do things in the future. From what they see to how they behave, from the way the parents talk to them to the way they deal with their kids — everything contributes towards making the adult version of them.
So how do you ensure that you help your kids develop good habits and shield them from picking up the bad ones? We have some tips you can follow!
- Set a good example for them to follow — As we have already established, children are impressionable. And their biggest influencers in life are you, the parents. If your child sees you brushing your teeth every night before bed, they’re going to assume it’s an accepted part of life and grow up following the same. Kids try to emulate their parents all their life. 90% of successful people say that their role models are their parents. So be consciously aware of the example you’re setting for your child. The first step to teaching them good habits are practicing them yourself. If you want them to tip the waiters, maybe start by doing it yourself.
- Teach the difference between good and bad - Kids can’t tell right from wrong till a certain age. Even then, it is the parents who help them identify which is which. If you see your child indulging in a good habit, like packing their bags every night before school, tell them that it is a good habit. If you’re so inclined, inform them of the benefits of the action. Sometimes telling them what could follow if they don’t develop the habit can also work. For example, tell your children about the side effects of not brushing their teeth properly once in the morning, and once in the night. Since nobody in their right mind likes visiting the dentist, your children will end up developing the habit!
- Reward system — Any good deed deserves praise, no matter how big or small. If you give a child a bar of chocolate after they get a good grade on their tests, they know that this action is appreciated and will try to achieve good grades again. Similarly, if you take away playtime for a day after your child says a bad word, they’ll know such action yields unfavourable results. A reward system will help you teach your kids which habits result in good things, and which result in bad ones. After one point, they might not think your chocolate is reward enough for their efforts, but they’ll already be in the habit of working hard by then. After all, it only takes 21 days to form a habit!
- Set some rules for them to follow — Children need some rules, some structure to stay in the line. Especially when heading to school where they are free of parent supervision, they need guidance. Setting basic rules to follow in school and at home can help them regulate themselves. Have a set timing for how long they can watch tv, study time, play time, etc. This will give them a schedule, as well as prompt them to know when they’re moving from entertainment territory to the harmful one. Have a little flexibility in your rules once in a while, so your children don’t develop agnostic tendencies and start chafing at being told what to do. If they want to watch tv for an extra 20 minutes once in a while, let them.
- Start with the basics - The first and most important step for developing good manners is starting with the small things. Parents can have unrealistic expectations with their children sometimes. Your child will not start cleaning their room every weekend, or even every month, from the get go. Start teaching them good habits with small things. Tell them to put away their books after studying, or to brush their teeth every night before bed. Basic hygiene like washing hands before and after every meal, or using words like thank you, please and sorry. These little building blocks can go a long way.