Breaking Your Child’s Bad Habits

October 24, 2014

As children are extremely impressionable they can easily pick up bad habits that become can extremely difficult to break. Here are some tips to help your child learn to overcome three common bad habits:

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a form of self-soothing and therefore must be handled gently. Start by letting your child know that they shouldn’t suck their thumb in public and it is best left to bed time or when at home. Let them know it is a good idea to learn to stop sucking their thumb because they are getting older. Gently ask them if they know they are sucking their thumb when you see they are as often children are not aware they are doing so. Offer them new ways to self soothe such as cuddling a blanket or stuffed toy. Praise your child when they don’t suck their thumb and avoid criticizing them when they do. Avoid making it hard for your child to suck their thumb such as applying a sour tasting liquid to their fingers or making them wear a glove or mitten.

Nail Biting

As soon as you see your child biting their nails gently coax their hand from their mouth and let them know they should not be doing this. You can share some health tips with them about dirty hands, as well as the damage it can cause to their teeth. Do not do so in a threatening manner; just explain why it is best not to do it. If they have already been biting their nails for a while you will have to take baby steps with them and set goals to help them stop biting. Remind them when you see them doing it and use a goal oriented approach, such as one day no biting, two days no biting etc.

Too Much Screen Time

This habit can include television, gaming and computer time. Set rules that limit screen time and schedule times to watch TV for favourite shows. Keep the television off when no one is watching and never allow eating or doing homework in front of the TV. Choose shows you can watch together and consider recording shows so you can skip through commercials. Encourage them to play video games that include activities such as dancing and sports games. Try to limit computer time to homework, and 30 minutes of free play.

It is not uncommon for children to outgrow their bad habits on their own. When they don’t, you can use these tips to help.


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