The start of a new year is a great opportunity to set new goals. For children, this can be forming good habits. While everyone can develop good habits at any age, it is critical to teach children while they are young. In fact, according to a Brown University study, by age nine, children develop routines and habits that are unlikely to change. Here are some tips to get you started.
Be a role model
Children learn from those around them—teachers, caregivers, friends, even from what they see on television and the internet. Still, they are copycats of their parents. As a parent, you are your kids’ biggest role model, so one of the best ways to help them develop good habits is by setting a good example.
Involve your children in setting routines
Involving your children in setting routines makes the process more fun and exciting for them and can help turn goals into lifelong habits. It teaches them to take responsibility, keeps them motivated, and boosts their self-esteem. Discuss with your kids what specific habits they would like to develop and help them identify which ones to focus on at a given time.
Keep it simple
As a parent, it is important to manage your expectations at what tasks your children can and cannot do depending on their age. It can be as simple as saying “thank you,” brushing their teeth regularly or helping with some household chores. Make it easy for your child to follow.
Help them understand the “why”
While it is important for children to learn to have some respect for authority, we should not raise them as blind followers. A key step when teaching them a good habit is to make them understand the reason behind it. We know why it’s important to eat healthily, sleep on time, exercise regularly, be polite, etc., but for children, all these may not make sense.
For example, when encouraging your kids to get into the habit of eating fruits and vegetables, point out that these types of food will help make them healthy and strong. Do not just impose without any clear explanations. After all, scientific thinking is a fundamental life skill all children must learn and should be part of early childhood education—something a child learning center like Celebree School is also passionate about as part of its Seven Domains of Learning to help parents like you raise independent, confident children so they may grow into self-assured adults.
Habits are formed through repetition. It’s not enough that your kids learn the task and why they have to do it, it also matters that they are consistent in doing it. Setting down rules and making a timetable will help them establish a routine. As a parent, it is essential to set out fixed hours for different activities such as waking up, getting ready for school, homework, playtime, screen time, and bedtime. Just keep in mind not to be too strict. You want your children to develop good habits while also having fun.
Make room for improvement
As a parent, you know perfectly that not everything goes as planned. Expect that at times, your children will make mistakes or refuse to do things. There will be days when your children won’t eat their greens, skip their assigned reading, or forgo tidying up their beds—and that’s okay. It is perfectly normal and is part of growing up. Even we adults still make mistakes, don’t we?