Can You Change Your Child? Tackling Kids' Bad Habits
By Diane Sonntag
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Nervous habits are not uncommon in children and can include calming behaviors such as thumb sucking, nail biting, nose picking, and pacifier use in older kids. "These habits usually go away on their own," says Berkenkamp, "but if they really bug parents, they should set guidelines for the behavior." For example, your child may only be allowed to suck his thumb in his own bedroom or maybe pacifiers are only all right at naps and bed times. And of course nose pickers need to learn how to use tissues (and be reminded, frequently)!
Do your children seem to willfully ignore your instructions or forget to do their chores? "Little kids have a hard time concentrating," says Berkenkamp. "Keep the directions simple and [tell them] one thing at a time." It often helps to turn kids' chores into a game. When it's time to tidy up, you can assign each child a certain category of toy to pick up or see how quickly they can clean.
Children, like adults, won't be able to break their bad habits overnight—but with a little patience and a lot of positive reinforcement, good habits can become second nature to your kids.