//Ris Adams;

Five ways of handling negative habits in children

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Watching your child grow and learn is amazing, but what happens when your child starts to develop negative habits?

Sadly, good or bad, most habits are out of your control. And although you might have shielded them from cultivating these habits at home, school, friends, or other family members are places and people where they can encounter them. There’s nothing you can do to change that environment.

Children naturally absorb a lot of the behavior they see around them

So, what can you do to deal with the bad habits your children develop? Try these tips

  1. Be patient. This tip might come as a surprise to many parents but taking immediate action can sometimes do more harm than good.
    • Accept that all children develop bad habits early in life, so try not to make a big deal out of it initially. Try to create a relaxed environment.
    • Most times, your child will outgrow bad habits independently, without your help. So, do something by doing nothing.
  2. Try to understand your child. After a while, when waiting it out doesn’t work, you can try exploring the reasons behind the behavior. Children are innocent and like to explore the world around them.
    • Some habits in children can stem from a stressful school environment, while for others, a chaotic family can cause bad behavior. Getting to the root of your child’s issue will help you understand these habits.
    • For example, a child doesn’t develop a nose-picking habit only to annoy you. They pick their nose because of the nagging irritation of the crust in their nose.
    • Once you know the root of the bad habit, you can start making positive changes to help your child break their bad behavior and stop picking their nose.
  3. Avoid giving attention to the negative behavior. Children are attention-seeking creatures. Sometimes, a child picks up a habit to get your attention, not because it’s an actual habit.
    • If you find that this is the root of their practice, the best option is to ignore it at the outset. Any attention you give will only encourage them to continue doing it.
  4. While you’re being patient, watch them, and work it out as a team. You can work with your child to curb any bad habits. That may be one of the most effective ways to deal with them.
    • Nagging and applying pressure increases the negative pattern because children don’t even realize what they’re doing is wrong. So, try to understand them.
    • If you can think of a problem with their behavior, you can work with your child to come up with a plan to change it. Talk to your child about the problem and the difficulties you have with it and work with them to develop a new way to handle the situation.
  5. Replace bad habits by engaging in other activities. For example, if your child picks their nose because they get bored, try to engage them in other activities that interest them.
    • Go to the zoo, have a picnic in the park, or go to the movies. There are plenty of things you can encourage them to do besides picking their nose. So, distract them.
    • Like any bad habits and addictions, replacing bad habits with healthy and productive behaviors will help your child get their needs met healthily.

It’s scary to think about the bad habits your child will develop. But as a parent, you have to accept it as a part of your child’s life.

Not every bad habit is something you can change quickly, but you can work with them to make it less frequent. If there are behaviors that you have a hard time dealing with, talk about them with your child and work on a plan for changing them together. You and your child will both benefit.