Who doesn’t want to raise absolutely well-mannered and sweet children? In the ideal world, your children will have only good habits, speak softly and politely and respect everyone around them – be it humans or animals. While that is a great expectation, the reality can be quite different and shocking. After all, no parent teaches bad habits to their children! But, does that mean your children will never have any bad habits? That’s unlikely.
Then what do you do? When your child forms a bad habit like biting nails or lying, the normal reaction would be to scold them and tell them to stop immediately. Let’s dive in some basics of Child Care Does that make them stop? Not really! Then, do you let them continue with their bad habits? That will be a nightmare to any parent, right?
How to Deal with Bad Habits In Children
In this article, we break down the bad habits that your child may develop over a period of time and how to make them get rid of it. But before getting into any of it, let us be clear of a few thumb rules. Shouting and scolding or even hitting the child is not going to make a child stop. The first time you see a child indulging in a bad habit, simply ignore. Chances are they will grow out of it with time. If you give any undue attention or reaction to their bad habits, they are more likely to continue.
If your child doesn’t seem to be growing out of their habits, talk to them in a friendly manner and try to understand what is causing them to do so in the first place. Most of the time it can be fear, anxiety or any other problem that they are unable to talk about. Speaking in a friendly manner may encourage them to open up to you and you will be able to find a solution.
Whatever you do, do not laugh or encourage them as sweet as they may sound. Also reward them positively for making an effort to get rid of their bad habit, leading them to make an even more sincere effort.
Here is a list of some common bad habits that children may have and how to handle each of these.
a) Nail Biting and Chewing:
A very common habit seen not just in children but also adults, this may be due to a number of reasons including absent-mindedness, anxiety or some fear. Rather than scolding them every time they bite their nails, talk to them and tell them why it is bad.
Also, keep their nails and cuticles moisturized so that they do not chip and the child is not prone to chewing them. When they do not chew or bite their nails for some time, tell them you noticed and reward them for their efforts.
b) Chewing Lips:
The primary reason for this is dry and chapped lips making the child chew on the dry skin to take it off. This may even lead to bleeding of the lips. Keep the child’s lips moisturized at all times to avoid drying or chipping. Tell them how they can end up hurting themselves by continuing with this bad habit. Also, talk to them and tell them how bad it looks when they do so in public.
c) Nose Picking:
The most irritating and possibly the most socially awkward habit that your child can get into. Of course, like all other situations, even here simply telling your child to stop may not help. Generally, the child starts nose-picking when their nose feels irritated due to pollution, dryness or any other such reason.
Try to find the root cause of the irritation and make them moisturize the nose in case of dryness. Teach your child what to do if they feel the irritation in public, like using a tissue. Also, make them wash their hands properly every time they pick their nose. This is one habit they can get over quickly with peer pressure.
d) Thumb Sucking:
Another habit that most childcare specialists will tell you about is the child’s habit to suck their thumb. If your child is used to a pacifier and you are trying to get them off it, chances are they will take to thumb sucking in its place.
Keep them engaged in other activities and they will grow out of this habit. Alternatively, you can let them use the pacifier for slightly longer and slowly wean them off the habit. For example – restricting the time of using the pacifier tonight before sleeping can make the child leave the habit overall.
e) Pulling The Hair:
Another habit children start mostly out of boredom, this can easily be grown out off. The parents need to patiently understand, why the child is doing this in the first place. If it is out of boredom, get them engaged in another activity and they will quickly get out of the habit.
Be careful not to build any negativity around it or scold the child incessantly for the habit. That will make it so much more difficult for the child to overcome the habit. Instead, if they are under four years of age, let them grow out of it naturally.
f) Whole Day Snacking:
This can be a sign of boredom as well as not having proper meals. Work with your child to find out why are they snacking through the day. Rather than indulging them, make sure they are given healthy meals at proper times and at other times keep them engaged.
Do not scold them, especially not in front of the company as this may lead to self-esteem issues, as growing children are also extremely sensitive, especially to what their parents tell them.
g) Using Bad Language:
This is more common as your child starts going to school and interacting with others outside the confines of the family. As much as it sounds sweet coming from them, never indulge them. Talk to them in a friendly manner and explain why this is not acceptable. Reward them to motivate them out of this habit.
Do not give extra attention to the bad language as that may indulge your child to repeat the same. Instead, explain how and why it is bad to use such language and the effect it can have on their social life.
h) Lying Quite Often:
Another common bad habit amongst children, as per childcare experts, this is something almost every parent has faced some time or the other. Children lie mostly to get out of a situation or tight spot. Speak to them nicely and explain how lying cannot save them from trouble, instead put them into more trouble eventually. Making them understand the consequences of their actions, rather than forcing a positive behavior, has a bigger impact.
Explain to your child that you are there for them no matter what and that they need not be afraid even if they have made a mistake. Give them the comfort that you always have their back and motivate them to speak the truth at all times. This will help them grow confident and get rid of the bad habit of lying.