Parenting tips

Instilling Good, Lifelong Habits in Small Children 

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I think one of the most important aspects of childrearing is to teach your kids good, daily habits…habits and routines, to be exact!

A routine, and this is how I would describe it, is essentially a period of time in a day where one performs daily tasks (most often in form of habits), as one would in a procedure.

From kids perspective, a routine might seem like too much work or too hard to learn. But as grown adults, we know that routines and good habits are crucial for productivity and self development. Especially mommies, right? Without a routine or a schedule our day would be a total mess, wouldn’t it? Unstructured, disorganized and unproductive. So as parents, it’s our job to explain, teach and help develop productive, daily routines with our kids. These routines are made up of good, positive habits, that will stay with them for a long time, hopefully into adulthood. The earlier you start learning the better!

Habits aren’t easy to establish and sometimes never GET established. In the book I’m currently reading with my ladies’ prayer group, Sink Reflections, the author Marla Cilley explains very thoroughly the importance of good habits and how to start small to establish them effectively. She calls them Baby Steps. But what caught my eye in one paragraph as I was reading, was that it takes 27 days, as she explains, to make a daily task an actual daily habit!



With kids, it might even take longer than 27 days. Some kids need drilling and drilling to finally understand and remember. You must show them daily, again and again the habits you want them to learn and establish.

 

Now let’s talk about which habits are important to develop in small children. But before, a little disclosure: I’m speaking from personal experience and am certainly no expert in parenting. I’m always learning myself. Every day!

First, the habits we have and learn vary from family to family and person to person.

Second, I have divided habits into two categories; common and personal.

 

-Common habits are habits that every single person does daily (or should do), such as brush teeth, make bed, brush hair, etc.

 




-Personal habits form from family traditions (like singing worship songs as a family at the breakfast table, every morning), religion (reading Bible before getting out of bed, every morning) and personal needs (drinking tons of water every day, maybe because of doctors orders at one point in your life).

 

And I know some people wouldn’t categorize family worship or reading the Bible as habits, I wouldn’t either, in a sense that you’re doing it as an automatic process and not being fully mindful of what it is that you’re doing. I would, however, describe it as something you’ve established in your life personally, agreeing to prioritize it and do. Therefore, after some time (or 27 days), it simply becomes you, your lifestyle, your habit. You’re fully engaged, present and mindful of the task (habit) you’re doing.



So which habits kids should/can learn to fit into their daily routine? It’s important to remember to pick age appropriate habits, of course, or you’re setting yourself up for failure.

 

Habits you can start as early as one years old:

-Picking out clothes to wear night of

-Brushing teeth

-Brushing hair

-Making bed

-Reading Bible in the morning/before bed

-Praying before meal

-Picking up toys once done playing

-Putting down the toilet lid

-Washing hands

-Eating with mouth closed

-Bringing finished dish from dining table to kitchen counter

-Saying please, thank you, excuse me + sorry

-Manners

 

Think of it this way. What would you want your child to be when he or she grows up? What characteristics? Well mannered? Organized? Productive? Probably all of those things. So instilling the habits that will eventually “form” the child into the well mannered, organized and productive human being, is how you start.



While you’re teaching your children good habits, remember to be patient, encouraging, supportive and consistent. Consistent, being one of the more important approaches. I’m assuming you already love your children, so you probably already encourage and support them as it is. And patience is probably something you might have already grasped being a parent. Consistency, however, is something a lot of people struggle with. Daily schedules, delays and overwhelming responsibilities might be to blame when you’re not consistently teaching your kids the habits you’ve intended them to learn. Maybe you’re running late in the morning and you have no time to spend teaching your child to make their bed or put the toilet seat down. Or your kids are going to sleep at a later hour and they’re already exhausted that teaching a habit just isn’t the right moment. All of these “excuses” are perfectly understandable and this is the number one reason why it takes a long time, many tries and patience to instill habits in children.

Life gets busy sometimes. Okay, a lot of times, but don’t let that prevent you from “working” on your child, forming them, improving and forming again. Childrearing years are short and it’s our responsibility to raise children that will know good, helpful habits that will help them throughout their lives.

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