What healthy habits do you want to instill in your children? There are the basics, like brushing teeth, keeping yourself and your area clean, and eating your vegetables. And then there are ones like reading and being generous/sharing. One thing’s for sure, as a parent or caretaker of a child, you’re in the prime position to help start your child on the path to healthy habits for life. The habits you teach your child now will hopefully stick with them for a long time! But how can you get your child to actually follow through with these habits, and not put up a fight or think of these habits as chores?
Practice what you preach
This is perhaps the most important step. If you are trying to build good reading habits in your child, yet they never see you pick up a book, you’re not setting a very good example! So let your child see you doing the things you want them to do. At night or in the morning, brush your teeth together. Make a point to always put dishes straight in the sink, or to have healthy snacks, or to turn off your phone at the dinner table. Whatever healthy habits you want to build…don’t undo them by following the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra!
If one of your rules/habits you’d like to build is to always do homework as soon as they come home from school, be sure to stick with this. Don’t allow them to, say, watch TV one night during dinner when that’s one of your rules. Of course, in most situations there are excusable exceptions (like allowing more screen time for a sick kid, or for the healthy kids when the adult is sick), but in general, make sure that rules are rules. And when making exceptions, use them as a teachable moment regarding the art of flexibility.
Kids often thrive on knowing why a certain thing is important. For example, don’t just tell them to brush their teeth. Make sure they understand, in an age appropriate way, why they need to brush their teeth. Talk about cavities, and having clean sparkly teeth, and fresh breath, etc., whatever you know will motivate them to actually want to brush their teeth!
Wondering what habits are worth cultivating now? Check out this blog for a list of habits that you can work on encouraging during the toddler and preschool years in preparation for school.