Repeating a pattern of behaviour, again and again, makes it a habit. Habits form character, and character makes a man. And habits are formed early, even as early as childhood. Children are intensely aware of their environment. They pay close attention to the behaviour of adults. Raising a child in a healthy home environment is important for him or her to evolve into a balanced human being.
As an intelligent and positive parent, teaching your children good habits on time will make it easier to raise them and also equip them with requisite skills and character traits for the great journey of life.
Remember, your child will mimic your actions and the choices you make. Whether you have a single child or have two or more children, inculcate good habits in them early on to give them a great start in life and strengthen your parent-child bond.
1. Developing a Habit of Eating Healthy
It’s a tough job for parents to ensure that their children eat healthy food all the time.
You can start by including leafy greens and other vegetables in their diet. Leafy greens are rich in iron and fiber.
Make meals more appealing by using colorful fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Prepare salads using exotic veggies and make them a part of the kids’ daily diet. By giving the child fruits and vegetables regularly, it will soon become a habit.
Also, make it a practice to eat the same fare as your kids – seeing you eat a salad or fresh fruit with relish, the kids too would find eating it more pleasant and enjoyable.
Barring the rare treat, avoid giving junk food and processed food to children. Most processed food contains harmful additives, preservatives, extra sodium, and fat. Instead, prepare a homemade version of fast food that is healthier and hygienic and give it to the kids occasionally.
Help the kids become aware of the harmful effects of junk food and the benefits of nutritious food. This is one of the good habits that you should definitely inculcate in your kids.
2. Playing Outdoors
Playing outdoors does wonders for the kids’ well-being than hours of mindlessly playing games on tablets or watching TV ever will.
Some kids who seem averse to playing outdoors may, in fact, be averse to that particular physical activity. Ask them to move out of the house and into the fresh air.
Physical activity makes for energetic children! Try introducing some fun and interesting games every time you take the children to the park or the playground – be it running, playing with a ball etc.
Give them the freedom to choose their preferred activity – be it swimming, skating, cycling, archery, gymnastics, or playing football or cricket. This would keep them happy and motivated and also help familiarize them with the various sports and co-curricular activities.
After some time, they will discover their favorite sport and enjoy playing outdoors.
At times, your little one may not be able to play well even after putting in a lot of effort; still, keep on encouraging and help the child learn the activity.
3. Good Eating Habits
Having good table manners can save your child (and you!) from a lot of embarrassment! Teach these table manners to your child and treat your little one as an adult while sitting at the dining table. This way, he or she will adapt to these habits more easily.
4. Brushing Teeth Twice Daily
This is one of the most important and hygienic good habits for kids that should be followed strictly. Children often find ways to put off brushing their teeth. Educate them on the benefits of regular brushing and flossing and on the proper technique.
Brushing and flossing teeth twice daily keeps them clean and also keeps a range of dental problems at bay. Make it a rule to brush teeth first thing in the morning and before bedtime and more so after eating sweets and chocolates to prevent tooth decay.
5. Sleeping On Time
A correct sleep schedule for your child is extremely important. Adequate sleep helps in replenishing the energy lost during the day, and one wakes up feeling fresh and rejuvenated. There are many ways to ensure good and healthy sleep for your little one.
Coax your little one to sleep early every day. Do not make the child stay awake till late night. Sleeping early helps in getting up early the next day, and this will be a major time-saver when your child starts going to school.
Set up a routine and fix the time to go to bed. This will make the child fall asleep more easily.
If need be, go to sleep with the kid(s) at the same time. This will prevent the child from waking up scared in the middle of the night.
Watch this video to understand why good sleep is important for your baby – Why good sleep is important for your baby
6. Cleaning Up Their Room
Kids will always scatter things around, making the house quite messy and dirty. Don’t worry, this happens with all the kids and you are not alone.
What you can do is train the child to put the things back in their place after using them. You may even ask them to clean their room once a week or for 10 to 15 minutes daily. The children will eventually start keeping their stuff organised and their room neat and tidy.
7. Being Responsible With Money
Teach your child the value of money. How hard it is to earn a single rupee and how easy it is to spend.
Every parent should encourage their children to save money. After all, money saved is money earned. To begin, get them a piggy bank.
If you are giving pocket money, ask them to bear all their expenses within the given budget and not spend unduly. This way, the child will learn how to value money.
8. Not Littering
Tell your child that not littering is one of the most essential good habits.
Teach them to throw trash into the dustbin and be a good citizen with civic sense.
If kids see their parents litter, what’s going to stop them from doing the same? So make sure you don’t litter and the children will soon follow suit.
9. Learning To Share
It is rightly said that “sharing is caring”. Teach your children about this phrase by sharing things with them and persuading them to share too.
Tell them about the intangibles as well, such as feelings, emotions, and stories that can be shared. A child will be able to share with others only after he is able to share with his family members first.
So, only parents can develop this trait. Take every effort to inculcate this habit in your child.
10. Not Skipping The Breakfast
We eat food to gain nourishment and energy. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping this all important meal is detrimental and can affect metabolism and blood sugar levels.
Provide a low-calorie and nutritious breakfast for the child. This helps with weight management, and in keeping the chronic diseases at bay. The high fiber in breakfast cereals can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Remember, skipping breakfast increases the likelihood of obesity four-fold.
So, make sure your child never skips breakfast again.
11. Get Moving – Don’t Be A Couch Potato
If your children tend to stay in at home and just laze around you need to get those homebodies out of the house pronto! Ask them to go out and play rather than just sitting on the couch for the whole day and being stuck to the television or phone.
A study suggests that the children who watch television for more than an hour or two daily are at a greater risk of certain health problems, such as:
- Obesity or being overweight
- Impaired performance at school
- Irregular sleep
- Behavioral or attitude problems
12. Reading Everyday
Reading will help the child in every way — it improves communication skills, vocabulary, and visualization. Instill the habit of reading every day in your children. This will help them become creative and imaginative and develop strong reading skills.
Studies indicate that daily family reading routines fosters language development.
Reading is unquestionably essential to your child’s success at school, and even later on in life. To make your child an avid reader, you could either:
- Set up a daily reading schedule for your child and / or
- Read aloud bedtime stories – choose stories from their favorite books – soon they will look forward to the reading sessions!
Whatever method you choose, make reading daily a way of life at home.
13. Avoiding Sugary Drinks
Drinking a minimum of 8 to 10 glasses of water a day is essential to stay hydrated. Water cleanses the body of toxins and gives a clear complexion.
Overconsumption of soft drinks may cause irreparable damage to the child’s delicate system. Little ones do not realize how harmful soft drinks can be with their high sugar and caffeine content.
Make your children aware of the deleterious effects of consuming sodas and aerated drinks. While an occasional indulgence is okay, the truth is these drinks are bad for children.
Let your children form a habit of drinking more water and when they want a change to reach out for healthier alternatives such as coconut water or buttermilk instead of a can of soda.
14. Sitting At A Family Meal
Given the busy and hectic schedules in today’s world, personal lives have taken a hit. Spending quality time with family takes effort. There is less time to spend with children and to indulgently listen to their stories and other daily rigmaroles.
Mealtime is when all the family sits together and discusses their lives with each other keeping all the day’s troubles aside. Unfortunately, nowadays it is common to have members of a family eat separately.
Make it a habit to have at least one meal, it could be dinner, together with the children daily. Listen to what they have to say and tell them about your day too. It’s worth giving time to family dinners. This helps in many ways:
- Kids feel comfortable and well adjusted in the family.
- When eating together, one eats a better diet as compared to eating alone.
- The bonds grow stronger.
- Fewer chances of children eating junk food while sitting with the elders.
Children are likely to develop good eating habits. It adds up to quality time with the family and builds lasting relationships. Like they say a family that eats together stays together.
15. Spending Time With Friends
Friendship is one of the most important aspects of life, especially in childhood. Small children are afraid of facing the world. They have to go to the school and be separated from their parents and then they find God’s most valuable gift, ‘friends’.
Having friends is important for the child’s physical as well as mental well-being and development. From childhood to adulthood, friends act as a support system. For friendship is given freely from the heart.
For children, playing with their friends soothes them, while teaching them social skills, such as co-operation, co-ordination and being united. Children, who don’t have good friends, feel alone, isolated from the world around them.
Encourage your kids to have a good bunch of friends, who can motivate and support them during tough times and who they can look up to. Let your kids spend time with their friends to socialize and relax.
16. Staying Positive And Pragmatic
Children can get depressed and discouraged very easily and at times, for no reason. Try to make them come out of their shell, and get them to confide in you. Thus, you can know what your child thinks and feels and what he or she is going through. While talking to the children, you need to stay calm and positive and only then can you deal with them positively.
It is said, “if you stay positive, everything will turn out to be positive”. Help the kids in developing an optimistic attitude and healthy self-esteem. Praise and reward them for their little successes, this will boost their self-worth greatly.
Always tell them what to do and not what not to do. Children don’t like to listen to don’ts.
Don’t raise their hopes with things that are not practical or feasible. Fake promises can hurt them. The tasks you set them to do and the things you tell them should be realistic and practical. What you teach them today will stay imprinted in their minds and they will think and act accordingly.
17. Treating Others With Respect
Negative or harsh words can be devastating for the person at whom they are aimed. Cruel remarks are discomforting to say the least.
Spiteful people destroy their relationships because of their unpleasant behavior. It is the name caller who reveals flaws in his own personality. On the other hand, a polite individual with a kind disposition is loved by all and is welcome everywhere.
Ask your child to be polite with everyone and avoid being rude and ungracious.
18. Being Courteous
When you respect others, they respect you. Treat others with the same courtesy with which you would want to be treated.
We should respect our elders, our peers as well as those younger to us. Teach your children to treat everyone with respect.
Whether your child likes someone or not, he or she can always be civil to them. Tell them to have the decency to be cordial or be quiet. Being disrespectful will only make things worse.
19. Treating Everyone Equally
Whether it’s the rich or the poor, a friend or an adversary, we should treat everyone equally. Educate your kids to be unbiased when dealing with others.
They should not discriminate on any grounds. This factor will come up while they are in the school, when choosing their friends, and so on.
If the child develops a bad habit of treating some people unfairly over others, this can create further problems when he or she grows up. What goes around eventually comes around, so all have to face the music. Hence teach the kids to be just in their dealings with others.
20. Being Honest, Always
Being honest is better than the alternative. Parents should introduce this habit to the child early on. As whatever the child learns in life, pertains to it.
Teach the child to speak the truth, even in the most difficult situation. Remember, parents are the role models to children, so your actions have a great impact on them. So begin by setting the right example yourself.
21. Having Patience And Perseverance
Patience is among the most adored character traits. A person, who is patient, can deal with any adverse situation.
Teach the child to be calm and relaxed. No point in unduly hurrying and being impatient when at the right time we shall all get there anyway. There is a well known proverb, ‘sweet are the uses of adversity’. Let the child understand that it pays to be patient and not give up.
22. Expressing Gratitude
The sun, the elements, and Mother Nature support our lives on God’s green earth. No human being can survive in this world without the generosity of nature and the labors of fellow humans.
A grateful heart is a magnet for positivity and attracts abundance.
From farmers that work to supply food, to the trees that provide us oxygen, to doctors who provide timely medical help, to the security guards who protect our home and so on – countless people aid us in doing several important things in our daily lives.
Educate your little ones to be grateful for these blessings and feel obliged to them.
23. Learning To Accept Defeat
Life is full of ups and downs. You win some and you lose some, giving others the chance to win. Explain to your little ones that there are more important things in life than winning or losing.
When they lose, they don’t have to get upset or sad. Instead, teach the kids to accept failure with grace and the confidence that they will do much better the next time around. Urge them to put in their best efforts and the results will come
24. Working Hard
Hard work is the key to success in life. Explain to your child the nature of work that you do to earn your living and how it sustains your family. Explain how the child too will have to choose a vocation in the future.
For now, be it academics or sports or other activities, the child will have to work at it to do well. No good fortune comes without putting in effort, and hard work always pays off.
25. Not Teasing Or Bullying Anyone
Children should not be allowed to tease anyone, regardless of whether the other person is younger or older. If you find your child bullying someone, you need to put a stop to it at once.
Teasing between friends is okay if it’s with their consent and done in good humor. But teasing a person mercilessly can be traumatizing.
Always teach your kids not to bully anyone and not get bullied either.
26. Not Harming Animals Or Birds
Animals and birds are sentient beings, and although they do not speak to us, they feel pain just as we do. Just because they are defenceless and don’t fight back, doesn’t mean that anyone can hurt them.
Teach the kids to be kind and friendly towards birds or animals and never to hit or harm them.
27. Waiting Patiently In A Queue
Training the kids to line-up and await their turn usually begins at school. They should learn to wait in line patiently and not jump the queue or push others to get ahead.
There is no point in getting impatient and disturbing others in line just to be done first.
Tell children to allow the elderly and those in a real hurry to move ahead, if needed.
28. Saying Please, Thank You & Sorry
The basic rule of etiquette is to say ‘Please’, ‘Sorry’, and ‘Thank You’ whenever required.
‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are rightly called magic words. Both are polite expressions to show that you appreciate others’ feelings and actions.
Teach the kids to say ‘Thank You’ without fail for common courtesies and to express their gratitude. Children should learn to say ‘Sorry’ if they have done something wrong and are at fault.
These three golden words can defuse pressure even in the worst situations.
29. Hygiene; Washing Hands Before And After The Meal
To keep disease causing germs away, the first and foremost step is to be hygienic. Ensure that the children wash their hands with a cleanser or soap before and after having their meals. This needs to be done every single time after they play or come home from school and so on.
Keeping the hands clean is a priority in the list of must-have healthy habits for children.
Simply washing hands properly and regularly can prevent the occurrence of common cold, flu, and other infections that can be caught by kids easily.
30. Going To Bed Early And Waking Up Early
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Well, that’s undeniably true. This is one good habit for your child that you cannot afford to skip.
Make sure your child goes to bed early, gets a sound sleep, and wakes up on time.
Staying up late and waking groggy-eyed for school will not do any good. The body needs enough rest to function properly.
At the same time, excessive sleeping is not advisable. If time permits, children can take a short nap in the afternoon.
31. Being Punctual
Five minutes before time is on time, and those who are on time are actually considered late. Always be punctual as time does not wait for anyone.
This habit is invariably introduced when your little one starts school. Latecomers are usually penalized in school, and children learn to be on time to avoid being punished in front of their classmates.
While your little one may acquire this habit on his or her own, as a parent do keep on reinforcing the advantages of being on time.
32. Exercising Regularly
A regular exercise schedule makes a person fit and active. Children are much more flexible than adults and thus can exercise easily.
Try waking the kids early for an exercise or yoga session at home. You will see them getting enthusiastic and looking forward to it. This will get children used to a fit and active lifestyle early on.
33. Not Criticising Others
Children should avoid saying anything hurtful to anyone. Criticizing others is a bad habit and one should not say mean things about others.
Using abusive language should not be tolerated at all.
Parents too should watch their words and avoid using any kind of harsh language in front of the children.
34. Helping Others
Always teach children to offer a helping hand. Whether it is helping out a fellow classmate, assisting their grandparents, or helping out at home, they should be keen to help others. And let them know that when in need they can get help from others too.
Whether it is a friend or a stranger, let the kids help all, but teach them to be cautious with strangers.
Top 10 Good Habits
Although we would like to teach our children all these 34 habits, here is a list of the top 10 good habits we should prioritize:
- Being Courteous
- Treating Everyone Equally
- Working Hard
- Patience and Perseverance
- Eating Healthy
- Regular Exercise
- Helping Others
At the end
Always remember that parents are the primary role models to their children. At the end of a grueling day at work, it’s not always easy to be cheerful and patient with a child. Nevertheless, remember that kids mimic their parents as much as they can, in every possible way. So watch your own behavior and attitude.
As a parent you have the power to shape your child’s early experiences, and to teach them the difference between good and bad.
If you positively reinforce these good habits in your children, these will become the fundamental principles they will abide by in the years to come.