Kids and bad habits

Kids go through periods of having bad habits. Some of their bad habits are worrisome and some are just really annoying. Parents agonize over what to do about their children’s unacceptable behaviour. There are a few things they should know.

1. What you see as bad habits may actually be natural stages of child development. If your very young child is examining the lint between his toes regularly, you might think it is unacceptable. It might be, though, that the child simply finds toe lint interesting. The child will outgrow the fascination and this behaviour will disappear.

2. The so-called bad habits may be ways for the child to soothe themselves. At times when they would ordinarily feel like screaming and crying, they may suck on their clothes instead. This makes them feel calm and secure.

3. Children may use misdemeanours to feel a sense of control over their environment. If they are dropped off at a daycare center for the first time, they may start having odd behaviours. This could be, for instance, rubbing the material of their clothing. As time goes by, if the daycare center continues to feel threatening to them, rubbing the clothing material could become a bad habit.

4. Kids sometimes do things adults see as bad habits that they don’t understand. Sometimes, the kids are simply solving a problem. If their hands are cold, they may put them between their legs to warm them up. Adults often misinterpret this and overreact. If they knew the problem was cold hands, they might have a different solution to offer.

5. Shaming and punishment are the worst things you can do. If a child is doing the bad habits in an effort to soothe himself, making him feel bad is counterproductive. It will give him more to self-soothe about. This is why parents often become frustrated when trying to deal with a child’s unacceptable behaviour.

6. Substituting more pleasant behaviors for the annoying or destructive bad habits can work better. You can teach your child to be aware of when they are doing something you don’t like. Then, you can teach them another behaviour to do instead. When they do, reward them.

7. Incentives work to help some older children get over bad habits. This is especially true if they are old enough to think in the long term of at least a few weeks. You can offer them a reward every day that they don’t do their faults. By the time they have quit, they will have a large reward waiting.

8. Usually, the best thing you can do is to wait for the bad habits to go away all on their own. As long as you don’t reinforce them by doing them yourself, the kids should grow out of them. Once they get older, their school mates will make it more attractive to them to stop doing their bad habits. Kids like to fit in.

The most important thing to remember about your child’s bad habits is that you shouldn’t be too alarmed. Only when they are destructive or dangerous it is essential for you to stop them immediately. Otherwise, be understanding and gentle when dealing with your kid’s bad habits.