I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “children learn what they live.”
It comes from a famous poem by Dorthy Nolte and holds more truth then you may think.
As parents, we sometimes overlook the little (not so great) things we do throughout the day not realizing the full effect it can have on our mini-me until it’s almost too late.
These little habits can be as simple as what you eat, drink, and even do in your free time!
As a mother of three teenagers, I have learned to change several of these pesky little habits before it was too late.
I’m going to hit the top three strategies that will help kick your child’s bad habits and learn new skills!
1. Monkey See, Monkey Do
Just like we previously talked about, our behaviors and habits rub off on our kids. The good and the bad. It’s not intentional, as we all seem to want our kids to do better and live healthier than we did.
Let me share with you a terrible habit that gets overlooked by many parents.
It’s not necessarily a “bad” habit like, say, smoking would be. Never the less, it is something I did not want my kids picking up and once I realized that my kids wanted it, I knew I had to change.
This terrible habit of mine was……drinking soda.
I drank soda from almost as far as I can remember in life.
I quickly became addicted to this sugary, yet satisfying, caffeinated drink. I continued to drink my favorite soda through adulthood and it wasn’t until my kids were in grade school asking me “Mom, can I have a pop?” that I realized that this is not something I want my kids drinking.
I knew I had to replace this habit. I wanted my kids to drink water, tea, coconut milk – the very things I avoided as a child.
So how did I get my kids to quit drinking soda and start asking for healthier options?
Simple! By starting with me to create this change. I stopped filling my fridge with cans of soda, stopped drinking 2-liter’s a day and loaded my fridge instead of healthier options.
Here are a few other scenarios that may be overlooked:
- A mom tells her son not to pop his fingers because it can lead to arthritis but when she’s nervous, she pops her fingers.
- Dad tells kids they need to go play outside and socialize with kids in the neighborhood, yet he uses his free time playing video games.
- Parents tell their kids they can’t eat in the front room because they are too messy, yet parents eat in the front room and leave dishes out overnight.
- Mom and Dad arguing over financial issues yet expect the kids to get along.
So, keep in mind that it’s not too late to make a change for both you and your kids! You are their biggest role model and ACTIONS SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS.
2. Follow the Rules You Set for Your Child
When parents come to me and say, “I hate that my teen curses!” and I ask them if they curse at home around their children, I often get the “Well ya, but I’m an adult.”
Parents often think that by telling their kids “I can do it, I’m an adult!” that it gives them the free pass to do whatever it is that they don’t want their kid doing.
It’s best to follow the rules you set out for your kids if you truly want them to follow. You are your child’s role model so you must “model” the behavior you expect from your children.
Even the tiniest of rules can easily get overlooked by the behaviors we model. I’m guilty of this one for sure! And now that I have teenagers, I have learned to be more honest about it.
For example, I will call out sick for work and tell the kids “I’m staying home today, I called out sick.” My kids know of course that I’m not and see what I can tell a lie in order to get what I want.
I don’t want my kids lying, so now I am able to tell them that I’m taking a “mental health day” because that I exactly what I am doing, and they know my work values mental health days.
“Give your kids guidance and structure to become great human beans”
3. Model New Skills
Learning new skills and growing is something I crave and want for my kids!
One of my pet peeves is when kids say, “I’m bored.”
Like, seriously, how can you be bored with the technology and options available in today’s world?!
Showing your kids what’s possible and teaching them the skills to succeed.
Time is valuable and your kids see how you utilize your time.
Teach them that excuses won’t fly and if you want something bad enough, they find a way. For instance, I work full-time and come home and work on my blogging business.
Spending quality time to teach your kids new skills is a healthy habit they will carry with them.
Don’t overlook social and emotional skills too!
As someone who works in the mental health field with youth, teaching kids about their emotions, coping skills, and healthy social skills can make a huge positive difference.
Kids see what you do. Kids will copy what you do.
Be a good example, follow the rules you set for your child, and teach them new skills!
Over to you – what tips do you have to ensure good habits from your children? Share in the comments!