Bad Habits in Children That Parents Should Know
By : Fitri Adji Rarasati
Bad habits interrupt our life and prevent us from accomplishing our goals. All the people in the world have bad habits, especially children. Dealing with children’s bad habits can be frustrating to parents. Children may show bad habits or bad behavior when they are stressed, bored, frustrated, unhappy, insecure, or tired.
Several bad habits that often occur in children are:
Thumb and finger sucking
This case mostly happens to infants and young children. Sucking their thumb or finger has a calming effect, gives pleasure and often helps the children to sleep easily. However, it may cause worry when the permanent teeth start coming out (around the age of 5) if the sucking continues until this age since thumb or finger sucking alters the shape of the child's teeth, palate or bite.
Head banging is when a child repeatedly hits his or her head against a solid object such as a crib. Some children will bang their heads as many as 80 times a minute. This can be distressing to the parents or caregivers for concern of injury; however, it is not pain that the child feels but rather they feel calm.
Nail and cuticle biting or picking
Nail biting or cuticle biting and picking is a concern if it results in recurrent bleeding or infection of the nail bed. It often occurs when the children feel nervous.
Bad habits not only have a bad impact on the children, but the calming effect and satisfaction they feel encourages them to continue the habit. Parents and caregivers cannot keep their children from developing bad habits. Here are some ideas for breaking children's bad habits.
Ignoring. Children love to be the center of attention. Paying a lot of attention to the bad habit and giving the children punishment may seem to be the right thing to do but it may have a negative impact. In the case of breaking the bad habit, paying attention to them will make them repeat their negative behavior. Therefore, ignoring their bad habit would be a good solution to make them stop doing it.
Educating. Children can only avoid bad behavior if they consciously want to. It is important to educate and make them understand the reason behind a particular habit being termed unhealthy. With maturity children will understand these reasons and will naturally lose interest in the bad habit and give it up.
Praising and rewarding. Praising and rewarding children when they engage in good habits while ignoring the bad ones consciously, is an excellent strategy. Focusing on the children's positive behavior and praising their good behavior will encourage them to develop positive behavior.
Identifying the root cause. Children show their negative behavior because they feel stressed. It is important to talk to the kids, observe and identify the reason causing the stress. Listening to their problems, being patient, showing love and support and helping them deal with these stresses is vital in getting rid of these annoying habits.
Setting rules. Establishing rules is important. Letting them know the consequences of violating the rules while implementing the same with authority helps to keep children's bad habits in check. Being firm and consistent with the children while still being supportive is extremely important.
Boosting morale. Giving children trust, support and love by being patient promotes emotional stability. Give the children the opportunity to make decisions at times; this helps to develop self-confidence and decision-making skills. Patient effort from parents helps children break bad habits. After explaining the ill effects of their bad habits, parents may even ask their children for ideas on how the latter can beat the bad habit.
When dealing with bad habits in children, parents or caregivers should also pay attention to the children’s growth and development. As adults, we can help the children outgrow their bad habits by following some tips mentioned above.
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