Are you trying to introduce healthy habits to your kids' lives but being met with resistance?
Here are five questions you should ask yourself when habits aren’t working.
1. How did I introduce the habit?
Listen, we’re not saying that introducing a habit has to be rainbows and unicorns and glitter, but we are saying that you have to be excited about it. And you have to make them excited about it. Think about your favorite teacher. Our guess is you loved them because they were genuinely excited about what they were teaching. Whether it was conjugating verbs or balancing chemical equations, they made every lesson seem like it was the most exciting thing they’ve ever done. Can you match that enthusiasm? If not, what’s holding you back? When habits aren’t working, reflect about whether you feel like any level of excitement seems contrived. If it does, then maybe you need to ask yourself...
2. How important is this habit to you?
If you want your kids to fold and put their clothes away because...well...you honestly don’t know why...maybe you saw that Marie Kondo said it was important or you just kind of think it’s something they should do, then maybe this isn’t the habit you should be teaching them. Think about the priorities in your life. Think about how introducing a new habit will help you meet those priorities. Also, if this isn’t a habit that is a priority in your own life, then ask yourself if you should really make it a priority for your kiddo’s. If you don’t neatly put your clothes away in specific drawers, then you are sending them a mixed message if you’re asking them to do the same.
3. Did I give my kids a chance to make it their own?
So your kids are brushing their teeth with a 5-step routine. And they hate it. Ask yourself--how can they make it their own? What if they picked out their own toothbrushes? Or had a special attachment for the bathroom sink that was shaped like a whale that they ONLY used when you’re brushing (yes, that’s a thing). When habits aren’t working, you’ve gotta try to make the task at hand more enjoyable for them. But, if you have done everything in your power to make it fun, then maybe it’s time to reflect a little further...
4. When you ask them why they aren’t doing something, what is their response? What is your response to their response?
If they’re groaning because they don’t want to stop what they’re doing to start the habit, then how can you fix it? Consider your transitions. Are they abrupt? Keep in mind that kids don’t really develop a sense of time until they are 8-10 years old, and even then it’s just starting. Give visual reminders or set timers to help them keep track of what’s next. Also, when habits aren’t working, don’t talk to them about it in the moment. They may be agitated, you may be agitated...and we all know how those conversations end. Talk about it after you’ve moved on to something else.
5. Does this habit meet your kiddo where they are? Is it too difficult? Think about ways you can scale it back.
We’ll be honest--we still can’t figure out the “right” way to put away a fitted sheet, nor do we care. When habits aren’t working because your kiddo is having a hard time completing a task, then maybe you need to scale it back a little. Do they have enough guidance to complete each step? Do you need to be physically present to help remind them of what to do next or create a checklist? Remember--scaling back isn’t a bad thing--it’s meeting your child where they are and helping them develop confidence. It’s with this confidence that they are able to eventually do more. It’s worth the extra help now.
Want a little help creating healthy habits for your kids? Check out our Guide To Healthy Habits!