Monday, April 11, 2011

Helping Children Break Bad Habits

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Picking noses. Biting nails. Twirling hair. Bad habits in children can be downright frustrating for parents. But what’s the right course of action? Here are a few tips to help you decode your child’s behavior and get him or her on the right track!

  1. Figure out what’s behind the behavior - Lots of kids (and adults!) bite their nails or twirl their hair because they are bored are stressed. If this is true for your child, find a positive outlet for the stress or an activity to keep her hands occupied, such as:
    • Stress balls
    • For girls, get a manicure- having freshly polished nails may make her less likely to mess them up!
    • Silly putty
    • A note pad and colored pencils
    • A few pretty fashion rings
  2. Remember: kids are still learning – and a booger in your nose is annoying! Even though, as adults, we instinctively reach for a tissue, young children don’t have the mental toolbox to remember even simple alternatives to nose picking like grabbing a tissue.
    • Give a gentle reminder. Every time. Even though it’s frustrating to say it 934390589308 times, remind yourself that your child is not picking his nose to spite you.
    • Consider purchasing a travel pack of tissues for your child to keep in his pocket (or her purse!).
  3. Let your child make real choices - Sometimes bad habits reflect your child wanting to be in control in other areas of his life.
    • Letting your child make real choices whenever possible will help him feel in control and reduce stress and frustration.
    • Let your child have a say in choices such as:
      • What to have for meals
      • What to wear each day
      • Which flavor of toothpaste to use (keep one or two on hand)
      • Whether to go to bed at 7:30 or 7:40 ß see this simple way to let your child make a real choice?!
  4. If you are concerned, seek help


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