As the summer months come to a close, there’s no better time to get your child(ren) to learn good habits than when they’re already taking part in an 8-hour one… School! Helping them build a solid routine is proven to aid your child’s social skills, academic achievement, and overall personal responsibility that will benefit them far beyond their schooling years.
Here are some tips to help them build these good habits (self-proven!):
Make them desirable...
In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, Clear states that one of the most important building blocks of a solid routine is to make the desired habit appealing to you (there’s a reason why fruity toothpaste exists for kids!). For example, if you want your child to eat their vegetables, spice them up! Put some seasoned broccoli next to an unseasoned (name of food) and see which one your child gravitates towards.
Add some rewards...
Just like B.F. Skinner’s reward conditioning, it’s true that someone is more likely to engage with a habit if that means they’ll achieve something in the end. And we know kids love their rewards! If you want your child to accomplish their homework, give them their favorite snack afterwards or some time on their devices. This one might be a no-brainer, but this goes for any habit, big or small. If they’re showing interest in an extracurricular activity but aren’t entirely committed, have a surprise unique to them if they stick to it!
Last year, when I got back into the gym, I originally went for an hour a day… every day... and boy, did I fizzle out quickly. When I scaled back and tried going for only 30 minutes twice a week, it allowed me to be hungry, so to speak. I realized I wanted to go more, and this desire led me to exercise more often, which in turn fueled consistency. If your goal is to have your child wake up earlier and mentally prepare for their day so that they don’t just roll out of bed and onto the school bus, start by having them set their alarm clocks back in only 5-minute increments, adjusting every few days. By the time they’re up at 5:30AM instead of 6:30AM, they will feel it’s just in their nature.
A little interior design...
Sometimes, we reach for the things that are right in front of us. If your pantry contains, say, cupcakes right at eye level but granola bars in the back corner of the top shelf, which one do you think we'll choose? The same goes for your children. They might ask, "Hey, now where did the iPad go?" — but if you create a space that encourages less electronics and more books, they'll eventually shrug and accept it as part of their new environment. In other words, make the less desirable habits harder for them.
I’ve tried hard to build good habits over the years, and I wish I would’ve started younger. Starting at an age where they’re impressionable is one of the best things you can give your child for them to learn a sense of self-responsibility. So, what’s the wait?!
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Written by Travis Cilik