How to deal with bad habits in children

A habit in children is a repeated action that the child performs without being aware of them. There is nothing to worry about these habits in children. Most common habits found in children are, picking of the nose, sucking of the thumb, pulling of hair, chewing objects or lip sucking.

Causes of bad habits

  • There can be different reasons for developing these habits.
  • These habits can be comforting to the child like thumb sucking.
  • Some habits are done to entertain the child or when they are nervous.
  • Some practical reasons also lead to formation of habits like a child suffering from cold may continue picking their nose.
  • Children pick up some habits from the adults like the habit of nail biting may come from the father who also has this habit since ages.

Seven common bad habits

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Parents normally scold or punish the child on perceiving bad habits. This makes the child stubborn and makes him feel more miserable and discouraged. Most of the childhood habits are harmless and go away on their own.

  1. Nose picking: The habit of nose picking is commonly found in most children at the age of 4 or 5. The child removes the contents of the nose with his fingers and wipes it at places or even eats it. It is not an acceptable behavior. It can also lead to bleeding,sores and infectioninside thenose. The infection from the nose can also reach the eyes if the child rubs his eyes immediately after picking his nose. Sometimes toddlers and school going kids continue this action to attract attention of the parents and enjoy in provoking the parents.
  2. Hair pulling: Children below the age of five get into the habit of pulling or twisting the hair along with sucking the thumb. Most of the time this habit disappears when they stop sucking the thumb. There is another type of hair pulling habit found in older children. At this age some children pull their hair causing severe problems like bald patches. The best method to prevent this habit is to have the haircut short.  This may be caused by some depression in the child which can be removed by professional counselling.
  3. Masturbation: Parents need to understand that children touch their genitals to learn about them and then they find pleasure in doing so. Thus the habit of masturbation in children is a source of discovery and play for children around the age of four years. Parents should not take it as a bad habit and not worry about this behavior.There is no danger to the health of the child with this action. They must teach the child to do so in privacy.
  4. Nail biting: It is a habit found in children above 10 years and is found to be more common in boys than girls. Nail biting is a noted in kids when they are engrossed in an activity like watching the TV or in kids who are nervous. This habit also develops when the skin around the nails is rough and dry. Nail biting can develop infection around the cuticles andalso break small pieces from the teeth.
  5. Thumb sucking: It is a normal and harmless habit in kids below the age of four. It gives them satisfaction and they feel secure. After the age of five years  if the habit is persists, the child must be involved in an activity that requires both the hands.
  6. Teeth grinding: Some children grind their teeth till the temporary teeth are replaced by the permanent teeth. This habit is said to be caused by nervousness and anxiety in the child’s mind.Teeth grinding may loosen the teeth or develop a painful jaw.
  7. Biting and hitting: Somechildren try to express their feelings of anger and frustration by biting or hitting. They may also do so to attract attention. This action must be handled with patience by the parents.

Tips for breaking bad habits

How to quit bad habits

  • Ignoring the bad habits results in the habit dying out soonthe child may also outgrow the habit in some time.
  • Praising and rewarding – Encouraging the good habits in children is a good way to make the child avoid bad habits.
  • Educating the child about the negative results of the bad habit is a good way to break the habit.
  • One at a time—When a child develops more than one bad habit at a time , it is wise to try to eliminate a single bad habit at a time with patience instead of handling  all of them together.
  • Search the root cause—the root cause of most bad habits is stress and depression. The child must be shown love and affection to handle certain situations.
  • Setting rules—the child must be made to follow some rules. One must be firm and consistent in handling the child to keep a check on the child’s bad habit.
  • Boosting morale—the child develops emotional stability when supported with love and patience. Have faith in the child and give him an opportunity to make decisions.

How to avoid bad habits in children

Chewing nails

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You must have seen the chewing nail habits in most of the children. Even if you ask them not to do it several time, they will not stop. Rather they have a tendency to do this several times. One of the reasons for chewing nails is insecurity. Many children chew nails when they are tensed about a situation or they are insecure.

Solution: Speak to them and find out what they are thinking when they are within the activity of biting nails. Also you can cut and make the nails of your child really short so that they don’t get the grip of nails to bite.

Touching private part

Children wishes to explore many things in the nature or with the people they are moving around. Thus, touching their private parts is also a type of exploration which they normally adopt. Most of the kids love to touch to touch their private parts as well. They don’t realize that this looks really odd when done in public.

Solution: Do not makes your child feel that he is doing something wrong so that he feels guilty. All you can do is distract him when he is in the verge of doing it at home.

Uttering lie often

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This habit is quite common which most of the child have been adopting. They normally do lie as they wishes to escape the punishment or scolding from elders. There is nothing to worry on this act of your child as uttering a lie is a very common phenomenon in a child.

Solution: When your children are lying, it won’t be a good gesture to scold your child. Rather, make him understand in a very humble and sober manner.  As you know that kids are really happy when they get reward or gift, you can also allow them get the reward whenever they speak the truth.

Abusive language

Parents must have heard abusive language from the mouth of their kids. This makes them worry a lot. They think about the source from where their child might have learned the same. Probably they have adopted these words from the environment in which he is staying. Even the friend’s circle can be a reason behind it.

Solution: You need to find out the source from which your child is getting the bad habit. You must check people who might speak such language at home. This can be you or your spouse even. Children grabs the wrong things fast especially from their parents. The only thing you must do is stop speaking such words in front of child. Also make him understand that this is not a good habit.