Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Start Today: Healthy Habits

How to Talk with Your Kids about Their Good or Bad Habits: 5 Tips

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article


Everyone is born to become something whether it’s an artist, athlete, teacher, or something different. Unfortunately, I think we all pick up a bad habit or two along the way. Mine was biting my fingernails, right down to the nub! The only thing that stopped me was my acrylic nails which I wear to this day.

Yet, we wonder where our children picked up their bad habit and how we can help them get rid of it. I assumed my kids would outgrow their bad habits, but my ten-year-old daughter kept biting her nails until two months ago. I showed her pictures of me when I had the same bad habit, and she commented on how ugly my fingers were.Then she decided to try to stop. I bought her some gel polish which kept the nails hard and difficult to bite. She’s now on her way to a set of pretty nails and is so proud.

My son is 12 years old, and his favorite thing is playing video games in his room which I considered a bad habit. He doesn’t enjoy sports like baseball, basketball, or football so we decided to find some kind of outdoor activity he would enjoy. We tried several things and finally found he enjoyed playing golf and was actually very good at it. After buying a used set of clubs, he was off!

Because there isn’t a training or instruction manual to give us a clue, parenting is demanding, yet challenging, job.We don’t get a monthly update on what new, what is working, and what isn’t working.And here we are with a child who never wants to clean his room, and the other one is only happy when watching TV.

There are a lot of tips I’ve picked up over the years, and I’m sure I’ll pick up more along the way. There are too many to show them all, so I’ll show just the five that I think will be helpful. The first four tips suggest ways to help instill good habits in our children. The last tip features ways to discuss bad habits with the kids and ways to overcome them.

Read with Your Child

As parents, we should begin reading to our children when they are very young.I started reading to my kids when they were 6-8 months old. I’m sure I enjoyed it more than my babies. As they got older, they took an interest if I let them help pick out the book.We still do it today except they read to and with mom and dad. Again, it’s a book they enjoy, and that makes it a happy experience.We sit in the living room, the whole family, and we all take turns reading. We set aside 30 minutes every weeknight, for this activity.In one of the books I read, it said that this will help my kids while they’re in school and when they join the workforce.

Make Dinner a Family Affair

It’s not always an easy thing to do, but it’s well worth the effort. Having dinner together as a family makes our family grow stronger in many ways. Sometimes I let the kids help prepare the meal which they enjoy. It’s amazing what vegetables they’ll eat if they’ve prepared it themselves. Being together for dinner is also a good place to re-enforce the kids’ table manners. It’s also the time we spend talking and listening to one another.It gives us, as parents, the time to listen to our children. When we ask them how their day was, we ask them to explain their day and what happened.

Teach Them Discipline

Discipline is a habit that kids should be taught by their parents. Once the kids learn how to discipline themselves, they’ll have an easier time in life. I know that I want everything to be easier for my kids than it was for me. Teaching them how to work for what they want benefits them more than if I just give them things.It began when our family sat down together and designed a schedule for the chores that needed to be done each day. They each got to pick just one and the rest were drawn out of a hat. We set their allowances for the week depending on what chore they finished and how well the job was done. There was, and still is, the potential of making extra money. Then we sat down again, and they began writing goals on paper which would help them save money for what they each wanted to buy. They understand that the harder they work, the more they make.

Managing Their Money

After my kids starting earning money, I let them keep a certain amount to use during the week for whatever they want. The rest goes into their bank in their bedrooms. Both banks have a key to open them, and I hold the keys.I guess that makes me a banker! We sat down together to devise their budget for them to save for something they each want to buy. My son is saving for a new putter to improve his golf game, and my daughter is saving for a manicure set with 12 colors of polish. It’s teaching them the importance of knowing where their money is going and how to save for something important.

Talk to Your Kids about Their Bad Habit

Be calm when what and why you don’t like their behavior. Then involve them in trying to break their bad habit.It’s always good to make suggestions about changing it by using an alternative action. Be sure to reward them in some way and never forget to praise their efforts.It’s very important to remain consistent in the process of rewarding them.It may take some time to break bad habits so continue to motivate them through the process.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.