There are many challenges you will face as a parent and one of them is bad habits in kids and how to deal with bad habits in your children.
Parenting is not an easy job, there are no breaks or vacations, and the lists of work you do never seems to have an end.
One of your main work as a parent is correcting bad habits in your children. Kids can pick up bad habits from school, from TV, from adults around them, etc.
You have to be prompt in noticing these bad habits in kids and changes in their behaviors so that you can correct them fast and deal with the bad habits. You cannot avoid this phenomenon.
Bad Habits In Kids And How to Deal With Bad Habits In Children
Young children are easily influenced and they are highly impressionable. This is why they can easily pick up bad habits from their peers or environment.
But the good news is that you can correct these bad habits in your children as soon as you notice them. We will give you strategies for dealing with bad habits in kids in this post while sharing some of these bad habits in kids.
Just grab a cup of coffee and read to the end.
[Also Read: Signs Of a Manipulative Child & How to Deal With It]
How to Prevent Bad Habits in Kids & Children
Below are some effective tips to help you prevent and even break bad habits in your children.
1. Set good examples
Kids learn best by examples, so if you want your children to behave well, you have to set the examples for them.
Set good examples on what to eat, how to eat, how to talk to people, and how to behave in public. Your kids are always watching you and this is the first step to preventing wrong behaviors in children.
2. Calmly point out bad behaviors
There are some behaviors you will notice in your kids and you may be tempted to react aggressively. Don’t do this. Take in deep breaths and remain calm.
Then you calmly tell your children why you don’t like these behaviors, and why they should stop it. This approach can even be used on kids as young as 3 years old.
When you say something like “I don’t like it when you suck your thumbs, could you stop doing that, it doesn’t look nice on you”. This will help to increase awareness of the problem and your child will work towards it.
3. Get your child involved in the process of breaking bad habits
Don’t try to break bad habits in your kids on your own, they may not understand you and this can result in undesired consequences.
They will feel you hate them or you just like punishing them. Let your child know that there are consequences for disobeying or involving in some behaviors that you’ve corrected.
You can reduce or deny their playtime, cease their toys or electronics, and even ground them. And let them know the reason why you are doing this, this is how you involve them and they will stop the bad habit to avoid being punished.
Another way to get involved is to know when your child is directly asking for help in breaking bad behavior and how to step in.
For instance, if your kid comes home from kindergarten crying that his friends made fun of him because he was sucking his thumb, understand that this is a way of him asking for your help.
This is not a time to scold, threaten, or ridicule him, you would only worsen the problem doing so.
Gently ask your child if he wants to stop the habit and what he can do to stop the habit. If he agrees to stop, both of you can come up with ways to break the unwanted habit and work on it together.
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4. Offer your child alternative behaviors
When you are trying to break a bad habit in a child, the child may be anxious or confused on what to do next especially if the bad habit was addictive like nail biting or thumb sucking.
So when you tell a child not to suck their thumbs or bite their nails, you should suggest something else like “let’s wiggle our fingers”.
This will serve as a reminder to your child and also increase awareness of the habit.
Try and look for good distractions to keep your child occupied. You can ask him to help you in the kitchen, feed the dog, or try a craft.
5. Reward good behaviors and praise self-control
To get the best result in breaking bad behaviors, you have to motivate your kids to break them.
A good way to motivate your kids is to praise good behaviors and reward them when they make a milestone.
For example, if your little girl has stopped biting her nails and she is letting them grow, you can let her use nail polish. If your son stops sucking his thumb, give him a sticker or a small prize.
Doing these will reinforce positive behaviors.
6. Consistently reward good behaviors
Don’t stop at rewarding good behaviors or praising their good characters or else, they may get discouraged and stop trying to change their behaviors.
Good behaviors in children will disappear over time if you fail to notice it and even praise it.
For the old habit to disappear, you have to firmly establish the positive habits by praising and rewarding their good behaviors.
[Also Read: Best Parenting Tips Every New Mom Needs]
5 Bad Habits for Students And How to Stop It
Many parents fear their children cursing because there is nothing worse than a child that is bad-mouthed.
You notice that just after spending a few weeks at their new school, your child has started cursing and you are surprised because you’ve never taught them that language or used it in their presence.
The first thing to do when you first hear curse words from your children is to ignore it. This may sound contradictory but ignoring it will make them less likely to use the curse word again if you don’t react with attention or amusement.
Then if it happens again, keep your cool and calmly explain to your child that the words he/she is using aren’t nice words. People won’t like him/her if they continue using such words, and that such words are not allowed in the home.
Even less freaking words like “what the ef” and “freakin” that are PG-rated should be calmly discouraged before your child progresses to R-rated versions like the four-lettered word.
Don’t allow your child to continue using these words because it shows a lack of discipline and education. So calmly tell your child that those words are wrong and it can have a major impact on them.
Your young child may not realize that these words are wrong, so correct them with kindness and try not to laugh even if the word is hilarious.
2. Back talk
You may be shocked to hear your little child talking back at you when you only thought that you will deal with this in their teenage years. This can trigger madness in parents.
Kids talking back to their parents in a condescending tone, responding to simple requests with a heavy dose of sass, and even rolling their eyes are bad habits that should be discouraged.
This situation is really annoying but you should try and be calm because the way you react to it is highly important for your relationship with your child and even for their future behavior.
So, take a deep breath and try not to raise your voice. Then you talk to your child calmly and in a civil manner. Ask your child if everything is okay and try to get to the root cause of why he or she is acting this way.
Try and maintain peace and you may be surprised to see your back-talk child change.
3. Dramatic sighs
Dramatic sighs, especially exaggerated ones, are close cousin of talk back. This bad behavior in children comes as an automatic response to harmless statements and requests and most times, it even comes with an eye roll.
This habit is annoying and should be discouraged if not it will become a perpetual habit in your child and they can carry it into their adulthood.
The quicker you break this dramatic eye-cycle, the better it will be for you.
Calmly explain to your children that pouts, complaining, and dramatic sighs are immature and these habits will never get them what they want.
This should put an end to it.
4. Telling lie
Telling lie is one of the bad habits in kids. There are many reasons kids tell lies. Some of them include telling lies to get attention from their friends and classmates, to avoid trouble at home or school, or to just gain attention from their parents.
Whatever the reason for your child telling lies, you have to discourage this attitude immediately you notice it.
Anytime you catch your child in the act of lying, correct him/her and always emphasize on the importance of telling the truth, always no matter the situation they find themselves in.
Kindly explain to your child that lying worsens matters, and tell your child the consequences of telling lies.
If your child still persists in this act, you can punish them when you catch them in the act. You can take away their electronics or give them extra chores when they tell lies.
[Also Read: What to Do When Your 3 Year Old Behavior Is Out Of Control]
5. Copying homework
Many children pick up this habit and it is not good. You should discourage your child from passing and copying homework from their classmates.
This may look like a minor or harmless act, but it can teach them deception if allowed to continue.
When you catch your child copying homework, that is the perfect time to bring up the issue of integrity. Tell them the importance and advantage of taking pride in their own work.
If this doesn’t correct the behavior, you can go a step further and add punishment. There should be consequences when they copy homework.
When they remember the punishment they will go through when caught, they will behave rightly and this will break this habit.
Also, help your kids when they come back from school with their homework. Ask them if they have any homework and go through their notes if possible.
This will even prevent them from copying assignments in the first place.
6. Breaking table rules
Has your child started breaking table rules and learning disgusting table habits like faking vomiting at the table, faking farting, burping, or even shooting milk from their nose?
This is a painful situation for parents but don’t worry, there is a way to correct these bad habits in kids. And you have to act fast before your kid embarrasses you in public.
This kind of behavior looks harmless and even hilarious to kids and their friends but it is not an acceptable behavior. Although, you can expect this kind of behavior at certain stages.
So you start correcting this behavior by telling your child that there is a place and time for everything and the dining table is not a place for such.
But if they enjoy doing it at the playground with their friends, no problem.
7. Rejecting food
This is a common habit in children, they dislike healthy foods and choose junk food in place of healthy foods and may even trade their healthy foods with junk foods at the cafeteria.
You should address the situation faster if you notice it. This will help your kids grow up as strong and healthy adults.
Try and discourage them if you notice that your kids have developed preferences for soda, candy bars, and fries after starting school.
The first step in correcting this behavior is to set an example for them to follow. When your kids see you eating healthy meals and avoiding junks, they will follow suit. Kids learn by examples.
Also, involve your kids in their lunch-making process. Let them choose what they want to eat, their sandwich fillings, they should pick up the fruit or veggies they want, and also give them the freedom of picking a sweet treat once a week.
Your kids will be more enthusiastic about meals when they are involved in the menu and process.
Many parents are of the school of thought that children don’t have sexual feelings. This can be very shocking when they find their little children rubbing or touching their genitals.
Well, this shouldn’t be a thing of surprise because children have sexual feelings and they discover their genitals as they grow and learn about their body parts.
When they reach for their genitals, they discover it is a source of pleasure and that is how they form the habit.
When you catch your child in this act or find out he/she is masturbating, don’t react negatively. You may be tempted to do so and also judge them but this act will make your child feel worse and ashamed.
Overreacting will worsen the situation and make the child masturbate more. This will also make the child feel guilty and this, in turn, can affect his self-esteem.
So what you have to do is to teach your child about their body parts and use the proper names for the genitals.
If you find your preschooler doing so in public, calmly distract him by introducing another activity and then when he is old enough to understand (like around the age of 4 or 5), you calmly explain to him that it is wrong to touch your genitals in front of other people.
Make sure your child’s school teachers and caretakers are aware of how you are handling the situation and tell them to correct the child with gentleness since masturbation is a highly emotional issue.
9. Picking nose
Children put their fingers in their nose from time to time to remove things and they can rub them on any nearby object or even eat them.
This is a socially unacceptable behavior, and the ugly truth about this is that you may not be able to discourage your child completely from this act.
But you can teach your child of 4 to 5 years old that this behavior is not accepted in a public setting and that they should use a tissue to dispose of contents from their noses.
Nose picking may look like a harmless behavior but it has health consequences. It increases the risks of viral infections and colds since bacteria and viruses can enter the nose from the hands.
It can also cause other infections like pink eye. Frequent picking of the nose also causes sores and scabs inside the nostrils. These are some of the reasons why you should discourage your child from this behavior.
When you see your child picking their nose, don’t use words like “nasty” or “yuck”. Your child will think that you are rejecting them if you show disgust to their behavior or bodily functions.
And don’t overreact because you will encourage them to do more. They may even do it to provoke you.
So the best thing to do is to teach your child not to pick their nose in public. Give him/her tissues and tell them to wash their hands regularly.
Also keep their fingernails trimmed to reduce the risks of infection. Wear a bandage on your child’s finger and tell him that it is a reminder not to pick his nose.
10. Nail biting
A lot of kids engage in nail biting between the ages of 10 and 18 years. And most of them start it as early as 3 years old and it is more common in boys than girls.
Most children who bite their nails do this out of boredom, anxiety, or when they are absorbed in an activity. You have to discourage this habit because nail biting can cause skin inflammation and even damage the cuticles and the edges of the teeth.
Don’t tell your child that his nails are ugly, this will only worsen the situation by making him anxious and self-conscious which in turn will encourage the habit the more.
Instead, introduce a daily program of nail care.
How To Stop Children’s Bad Habits
Most of how to break or deal with bad habits in kids and children have been said above, especially in the first subheading. Whatever bad habit you notice in your child, the tips above can be used to break them.
In addition to the tips above, you have to understand a behavior very well before you can help your child in breaking it. You have to know where it is coming from.
Psychologists tell us that behaviors are divided into 2 groups: the self-soothing group and the second which is response to a discomfort.
Know which group of behaviors your child’s bad habits fall under and you will be able to help them better.
And always remember to work with your child to stop the habit. Remind your child kindly when they forget and start sucking their thumbs and you can even use non-verbal cues. It won’t feel like you are correcting them.
We hope this post serves as a guide in helping you break bad habits in your kid. And kindly remember that habits take time to develop and that is why they also take time to be broken and replaced by healthier habits.
So be patient with your children and always treat them with gentleness.