Bad habits are hard to break, especially for children. As a parent, eliminating them can be a challenge. Whether it’s leaving their toys on the stairs, sucking on their thumb, biting their nails, or phone addiction, it’s important to put a stop to these patterns. Many parents can feel at a loss when it comes to breaking their child’s bad habits, but these tips can help you through it:
Approach Calmly But Firmly
When you first notice your child’s bad habit, it’s essential to have the right approach. Be calm yet firm when telling them that what they are doing could go wrong if they keep doing it. Take the time to explain to them how their behaviour could affect their physical appearance, damage their psyche, or could even lead to ridicule from peers. You could also let them know how the behaviour bothers you as their parent. However, never scold, yell, or harshly criticize their bad habit because it can easily cause the behaviour to increase, and also undermine their self-esteem.
Form a Partnership
Telling them that the habit is bad is often not enough. Children can be stubborn and it’s important to be their partner in breaking the habit. Help them through it by asking them if they want to stop the behaviour and what they think they can do to break it. Think of ways together to stop the unwanted behaviour and suggest new ones instead. For example, if your child bites their nails all the time, an alternative could be wiggling their fingers. This helps them become more aware of their habit and then break them.
Give Praise and Reward
If you see your child show self-control and avoid sucking their thumb or biting their nails, reward them! If you notice they’ve gone a whole day without sucking on their thumb, give them a small prize and praise for the good behaviour. This type of positive reinforcement motivates them to keep going without their bad habit. Make sure to be consistent with rewarding their good behaviour and to be patient.
Breaking the habit won’t happen overnight. Work with your child and allow them to form new, better habits.