The Lifelong Gifts of Good Habits

May 11, 2020

I can attest … from personal experience … that it’s human nature to see negative tunnel vision.

This is true in all aspects of life, even when it comes to our kids. With parenting, it’s easy to fall in line with standard “bad habits,” such as poor communication, constant worry, overshadowing, and rigorous critiquing.

This. Is. Human. Nature.

Remember, you’re a loving parent, so stop kicking yourself!

Instead, take note and take charge. Start by understanding that these parental bad habits are detrimental to the process of creating children’s good habits. And, to put it in perspective, positive habit-building at a young age leads to lifelong successes. From higher income to healthier romantic relationships to lower risks of mental health issues, a strong foundation of healthy habit development is key.

How does it work?

Habits are catalogued into our subconscious, which frees our brains for more complex tasks. By encouraging good habits at a young age, you’re allowing for healthier, more robust brain development.

What kinds of habits are there?

  1. Essential unconscious habits such as brushing your teeth and tying your shoes.
  2. Healthy or “good” habits such as healthy food choices, reading, and physical activity.
  3. Unhealthy or “bad” habits such as watching too much television and eating junk food.

Harness an image of steady childhood development!

As a parent, you’re the Sherpa for those staggering mountains. It’s a slippery slope, riddled with bad habits that you wouldn’t necessarily think are bad — such as sleeping with the light on, sucking your thumb, and not wearing sunscreen — to the more obvious ones — such as gross amounts of television and too much sedentary time.

Strap into that heavy backpack of tools, dig your boots into the snow, and start climbing!

When should a parent begin encouraging healthy habits?

As early as you can! Most habits are ingrained in our kiddos’ subconscious by the age of nine. Yep, you heard that right! Those first nine years of life are critical for healthy habit building.

How can a parent instill positive habits?

  • Be a role model
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Take time for family bonding
  • Set strong ground rules and boundaries
  • Make healthy eating important
  • Encourage reading over television
  • Reward positive habits

You’re the parent, which means realism is on your side and your side alone. This means setting realistic goals, allowing your child to make mistakes, and harnessing patience.

Finding yourself overcrowding or loosing that award-winning parent-bred stoicism?

Take a deep breath, count to five, and reassess the situation by asking yourself these questions before intervening:

Is my kid in any actual danger?

Is the outcome something I can live with?

Can I visualize the best and worst case scenarios?

Is my kid learning something from this mistake and/or experience?

Teaching your kid to form good habits doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long, uphill, grueling process, yet one that is richly rewarding in the end!