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HOW TO BREAK A BAD HABIT?

Ugh! Bad habits.

Your own bad habits make you feel guilty. And others bad habits irritate you!

Children go through a variety of them – for example, nailbiting, thumbsucking, chewing with mouth open, nose picking, slow eating, pacifier sucking – you name it, we’ll find you a child who has it.

Now that we have a little time extra at home due to the lockdown, how do we use this to help our children improve themselves?

First and Most Important – Does Your Child Accept That it’s a Bad Habit?

If yes, he / she wants to improve half the battle is already won!

If no, sit your child down calmly and explain that this is a bad habit, explain why you don’t like it and how it can affect the child badly in the long run.  (This works well only in children above four years)

Be calm, be positive in your approach and definitely don’t shame or criticise. (This can be common in some joint families, where everyone is nagging the child to leave the bad habit)

It’s not always easy to understand a child’s irrational feelings which leads to certain bad habits but try, try, try till you succeed.

Second, Identify the Trigger

Children usually use their bad habits to tide over boredom or anxiety. Some habits provide comfort. Identify the trigger that starts the habit and counteract it.

Third, Be Mindful of The Habit

This requires conscious thought on the child’s part. And that requires time! That’s why, the best time to start breaking a habit is when the child is relatively free, and their schedule is slower so that they can be mindful.

Lockdowns and vacations work perfectly!

Some bad habits can be replaced by good habits by being mindful. Say, a child is used to picking their nose, by being mindful the child can use a tissue to clean it rather than their finger. Another example is if a child sucks his/her thumb, a child remains mindful and hold their hands behind their back till the urge passes. What if the child is craving comfort from sucking the thumb? Can holding a soft toy provide it?

Celebrate!

When a child is mindful and remembers not to repeat the habit, teach them to give themselves a cheer every time – “ Yay! I’m awesome!”


And of course, praising your child when you notice that they are not repeating a habit only reinforces the positivity of the process.

Model for Your Child

Everyone has a bad habit, and while you’re expecting your child to improve theirs, encourage them by telling them that you are improving on one bad habit of yours too.

Make it like a competition between yourselves, if you have only one child. It’ll be fun to compare notes and see who is improving faster.

Have two children?

We love the idea, one mom, Alison, blogged about. Her family had a “Friday family party night” every week where they would have yummy food, with no strict rules and lots of fun. Her kids loved it.

So she uses this as leverage.

She created a point system for all the things she wanted that her children would do better. She made a list and put it up!
For example,

  • Cleaning the room: 5 points
  • Leaving the refrigerator door open: 2 points
  • Bad attitude towards siblings: 8 points

And the list continues. If a child lost more than 50 points a week, they were not invited to the Friday night party.
Taking a leaf out of her book, use the things your children enjoy as leverage to help them improve themselves. Though, this works wonderfully if you have more than one child.

It reminded me a lot of the Hogwart’s point system!

We pray that this coming summer is safe and happy for your family.
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2020-04-07T12:48:23+05:30 By |3 Comments

About the Author:

Dr Apeksha Anand completed her BDS in 2007 and went ahead to complete her Masters in Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry. She has 6 consultation practices in Powai, Ghatkopar and Juhu. Her love for children has pushed her to diversify from pure clinical practice into educating parents about preventing dental diseases through Dentist Auntie.

3 Comments

  1. Sanjiv Chopra April 1, 2020 at 02:11 pm - Reply

    Absolutely wonderful!

  2. Hema Ramesh April 1, 2020 at 03:51 pm - Reply

    Well written

  3. Aaleya Tiwari April 5, 2020 at 05:14 am - Reply

    Wow soo wonderful

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