Help Children Form Good Habits with these Strategies and Examples
It is never too early to help our children develop or form good habits. In fact, it is best to start them young; because, it would be more difficult to introduce new habits to them when they are older and are already practicing different habits. It is more challenging to unlearn existing habits. This is true for both adults and kids.
But once habits are formed, struggles are lessened since once it becomes a habit, we usually don’t think about them anymore. We simply do them automatically.
How do we help children form good habits? Here are some strategies.
3 Strategies to Help Children Form Good Habits
1. Start them young.
Expose them or teach them as early as possible. Kids are like sponges. They easily absorb, not just information, but also words and actions. Even babies can follow routines. In truth, routines help keep babies calm and happy. The predictability of what will happen next gives them security. Young children are also more compliant and cooperative compared to older children or teenagers. There would be fewer arguments if there would be any.
2. Do it with them or be a role model.
This is most helpful when you are introducing new habits to children. Children naturally want to spend time with their parents. Use this advantage by modeling to them habits that are good for them to acquire even at an early age. These activities or moments also serve as bonding moments with the parent/s. Moreover, it is easier to convince them to do it if they see other adults, especially their parents, doing the same things.
3. Give them time/opportunities to do these habits consistently or regularly.
We need to factor these habits into our children’s schedule and in our conversations with them. Even if we introduce good habits to them but they do not have the time or opportunity to practice them, they would not develop into habits.
Now, let me share some examples of good habits that we can introduce to our children as early as infancy or toddlerhood.
Examples of Good Habits
GOOD HABITS FOR THE BODY (PHYSICAL)
- Practice good grooming by taking a bath daily and brushing their teeth after meals.
- Eat vegetables and fruits.
- Eat healthy food instead of junk food.
- Be active. Make time to exercise or play outside.
- Eat breakfast.
Introducing kids to healthy food and drinks is one of the most important things that parents can do for their children. As the saying goes, “Health is wealth.” Kids who are taught to eat and drink healthy early in life will develop strong bodies and would not be prone to sickness. That is one reason why as a young mother, I made it my goal to breastfeed all of my children for a minimum of two years each. Actually, they breastfed from me for at least 2.5 years each.
I also limit their sugar intake and the frequency that they eat sweet food. We don’t include junk food in our groceries.
GOOD HABITS FOR THE MIND (MENTAL)
- Read books.
- Do lessons independently.
- Learn new things.
- Strive for excellence or do your best at all times.
- Do lessons first before playing.
One of the good habits that I helped my kids develop is their love for learning and reading. I started reading to them even as babies. They all have shown interest in books even before they started talking. Now, their day isn’t complete without reading a book with me or on their own. I think that this is a good foundation for continuous learning. We, parents, do not know everything. But, if our children will read books, they can learn things that we cannot teach them because we don’t know them.
I also do my best to help my kids learn and do things independently. I only model how to do things to them. Then, I invite them to try doing things on their own. I also encourage them to always try new things, to experiment and explore.
GOOD HABITS FOR THE HEART (SOCIAL)
- Say “please” and “thank you.”
- Make eye contact with people when talking to them or being spoken to.
- Be green. Help save Mother Earth.
- Do your share of chores at home.
- Be kind, helpful and friendly.
One of my goals is to raise kids who have a heart for others and the environment. I also want them to find joy in being and in doing good. That’s why I teach them to be respectful in their own simple ways and to do their share in saving Mother Earth.
GOOD HABITS FOR THE SPIRIT (SPIRITUAL)
- Pray upon waking up, before and after meals, before bed, before leaving the house.
- Go to church to worship God at least weekly.
- Dress appropriately for church.
- Read the Bible.
- Join a ministry where you can use your talents to serve the Church and others.
I introduce God to my kids as early as infancy. We include them when we pray. I bring them to church with me when I go to daily Mass and Sunday Mass from infancy. We baptize our babies as early as one month old. We bring them to Bible studies, prayer meetings and retreats. I read the Bible to them daily. Because of this practice, they are the ones who remind me and my husband sometimes that we have yet to read the Bible when we forget in our busyness. They also read their own Bibles on their own. Also, because they witnessed me and my husband serving in ministries, they also decided eventually to serve in the ministry of their choice.
Since our children are part of the Music Ministry in our parish, we teach them and remind them to always dress appropriately for the Mass, be it daily Mass or Sunday Mass. Being children is not an excuse not to observe the rules on what is appropriate and not when it comes to the proper attire for the Mass. We always make sure that they are wearing pants when attending church and especially when serving. We tell them that they should set a good example to the other church-goers since they are church servants. Children carry these teachings and practices into adulthood. Children who dress too casually and without modesty (wearing shorts, sleeveless or spaghetti straps, skimpy and short shorts and skirts) will get into the habit of wearing these things into adulthood. But if we train them as early as while they are children, they would soon pick up these godly habits.
GOOD HABITS FOR THE WALLET (FINANCIAL)
- Live simply.
- Ask yourself always if what you want to buy is a need or want.
- Save money.
- Invest your money.
- Donate to the Church and other charitable institutions.
We start teaching our kids about finances as early as while they are toddlers. We give them coin banks to encourage them to save. Then, we tell them that what they save each year is invested in mutual funds. We also teach them to also set aside part of their money for donation. My kids are actually excited to donate money and things to the church. We also plan and schedule outreaches to let the kids know about the poor around us. These activities give them opportunities to learn about compassion and sharing.
On top of these, we teach them the difference between needs and wants. We don’t always buy or give what they want. We explain things to them that we have priorities.
Whatever good habits children learn or form in their childhood, they will most likely carry them until adulthood. These will become part of their way of life. These are some of the best gifts and legacies that parents can leave to their children. These good habits can help set our children up for success in the different aspects of their lives.
These are just a few of the many good habits that parents can teach their children. I’m sure that you can think of much more to add to this list.