12 Best Tips to Teach GOOD HABITS  to children

12 Best Tips to Teach GOOD HABITS to children

“Wash your hands.” “Say Thank You.” “Speak softly.” “Turn off the TV.” With a toddler at home, it’s pretty common to hear all of the above from mommies and daddies all the time! The moment a mother conceives, she starts thinking about how she wants to raise her baby and she visualizes how she can bring up a good citizen. Every parent wants their child to be well-behaved and they start to inculcate good habits in their child even as a baby. I met this mother of a 7-month-old and I was shocked when I heard her telling her little daughter, “You’ve not been good. You misbehaved. You better finish your lunch or I won’t take you home.” Another 3-year-old whom I met at a birthday party, told her friend, “Tu meri baat nahi sunegi toh main tujhe zor se maroongi.” Such is the extent to which parents get finicky about raising a socially “appropriate” child. Good habits play a major part in building a child’s overall personality. Children imitate their elders all the time so you need to practice what you preach. When children see their parents and how they behave, they also behave in a similar way. However, it requires a lot of patience and effort on the part of the parents and it is the responsibility of all family members to inculcate good habits in children. One must also remember that good habits are not formed overnight; they are mastered through practice. Parents can inculcate good habits in their child while playing, in order to make it a fun and exciting process. It is of utmost importance to start this practice early since small children can be molded easily and the habits once formed, will stay with your child all his life. Once a child develops a bad habit, it becomes quite tough to break it and make space for something else. But this doesn’t mean that you use force to do so. Many times, parents are so determined to inculcate good habits in their child that they do so by using harsh methods like hitting, scolding hard and pinching as well. This is a very incorrect practice as it defeats the entire practice of inculcating good habits. Not only can this have a negative impact on the child, it will leave a lasting impression on the heart and mind of the child and he/she may not be able to follow anything that you teach.


  • Say it with a smile

say it with a smile A little affection, a little love, and a little patience are all it takes to get things done from kids. When you say it with a smile, they will listen more readily. Children understand the language of love more than anything else. All family members should collectively help to inculcate good habits in the child.
  • Set reasonable expectations

It is ok to have some expectations from your child but they need to be reasonable. Do not expect your child to get everything right in the beginning. It takes time to master habits. As adults, we find doing a lot of tasks to be quite easy, but children are still learning every day. PATIENCE is the keyword when you’ve got to teach kids. Let your child enjoy his childhood. Have faith in your child and you will see him/her evolve as a beautiful human being.
  • Give  logical reasoning

Simply saying something is bad and something is good doesn’t really work with kids. Children understand things and concepts more easily when you take them into confidence and explain the reason behind a particular action. Not only will your child retain that information; he/she will also reiterate it to others around. For instance, when my 3-year-old started running away from brushing her teeth in the morning, I told her about the benefits of doing so and the health hazards of not brushing teeth daily. I told her that Black Germs get stuck in our teeth. She understood this lesson so well that the next time her father was about to sip tea in the morning, she asked him upfront, “Papa, have you brushed your teeth?” brushing In addition, I also got a book for her about a puppy who brushed his teeth. Click here to see Pepper Brushes his teeth. Many babies get into the habit of sucking their thumb and mothers find it very tough to get rid of this. A friend whose son kept on sucking his thumb till the age of 3, was finally able to prevent her son from doing it after trying numerous ways, only when she explained to her son how her thumb carried germs that travel to the tummy and cause infections. She also told her son that sucking the thumb will make his teeth come outside the mouth. This instantly got through to the child and he stopped it that very minute! You must tell your child why and how this habit is going to benefit them for the rest of their lives and believe me, it will stay with your child forever. Do not underestimate the intelligence of your child. If you explain in simple words, they will get it loud and clear!
  • Praise and acknowledge good behavior

Make it a point to praise your child or reward him/her when he/she displays the desired behavior. You may hug your child or tell someone how nice your child is. Children love to hear someone praising them. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in boosting your child’s confidence and trust in you. Sometimes just a little pat on the back, a small hug or even a THUMBS UP is enough to motivate a child. What might seem to be a small thing for you is a great source of motivation for your little munchkin! In order to reinforce good behavior and discourage bad behavior, a friend of mine hung a RED and BLACK STAR Chart in her child’s room. This conduct chart is populated with a red star when the child displays a good habit and a black star is given when the child displays inappropriate behavior. After every 5 red stars, the child is rewarded with a toy of her choice but after every 5 black stars, one red star is deducted. red star black star This is just an example but you can find your own way of rewarding your child and encouraging healthy habits. But, remember; do not reward your child with toys, chocolates or TV time as your child will start expecting these all the time.
  • Teach with a story

If your child is a story lover, then you have a very simple way of telling your child about good habits. When your child is engrossed in a story, you can easily tell them the moral of the story or the habits of their favorite animal or character. Read to your child often and tell them what the story stands for. There are various kids’ stories which are specifically focused on good and bad habits. story When my daughter won’t sit in the car seat while traveling in the car, I just created a story about a giraffe that was traveling with his parents and did not sit in the car seat and how he felt a huge jerk. Now, every time she sits in the car seat, she expresses her need to be belted up since she doesn’t want a jerk like a giraffe! Another type of story which most children love to hear is stories about your childhood and about themselves when they were babies. You can extract the story you like and embed a moral or a good habit in it while narrating it to your child! Back it up with old pictures and your child is all ears!!
  • Use playtime as a learning experience

Use playtime as a learning experience Playtime is a great time to teach kids about various good habits and other things about life. You can teach your child about taking turns, playing by the rules and to take losing lightly and about leadership during playtime. Playtime is also a great time to strengthen the bond with your child and you can emphasize the importance of family and be together during the playtime.
  • Be firm but polite

Sometimes children do take you for a ride and don’t listen, but you need to tackle them intelligently. Be firm but don’t lose your cool. You can tell your child very politely but stick to whatever you say. Sometimes silence is a stronger tool than raising your voice. My little angel just didn’t like cleaning up her toys. She would spread them all over and run away. I remembered a song about cleaning up while making my daughter clean up her toys and arrange them. Once I just started singing the cleanup song and kept a few toys where they belonged. The next instant, she joined in the song and in cleaning up! It’s that simple.
  • Express your love

Express your love Amidst all this teaching and making a good citizen out of your child, don’t forget to love and hug your child. Your child should not feel that he/she is living with a tough dictator. You must express your love to your child and make him/her feel loved. This will convince your child that whatever you are doing and saying is for his own welfare and that you mean well. After all, this is your baby and you’ve put in so much effort to bring him/her into this world. To prepare him for facing the big bad world, you need to shower ample love on your child!
  • Listen to your child

Allow your child to speak his heart out whenever he/she wants to. You should always look at your child while he/she wants to talk to you. And while your child is talking to you, do not interrupt. Just listen silently. Not only will your child confide in you every time, he/she will also feel reassured that he is being heard and his talk is important to you. Listen to your child If, however, you shun away from your child and don’t listen to him, your child will stop talking to you and telling you about his problems. I think that’s the last thing any parent would want. You should be the first person whom your child wants to talk to and confide in. Develop a lifelong friendship with your child so that he/she always comes to you in times of need.
  • Be a good role model

In order to teach good habits to your child, you have to be a good role model. Never ever fight in front of your child. Respect elders and keep all your things in place. Spend some quality time with your child every day and also make your child interact with other family members. Model good habits and your child will pick them up while watching you! One day my son said, “Thank you”, to our driver when he opened the door. Now, that’s the power of learning by example. I was so happy to see this. It is even more satisfying when your child corrects you. When my mother called me and I said, “Haan”, he corrected me and said, “Mumma, say Hanji, nanimumma aapse badi hain na!”
  • Talk to your child often

talking Converse with your child as often as you can. When parents are unable to give enough time to their children, that’s the time when children either indulge in too much TV viewing or they look for other ways of attracting attention. So, if your child shouts or messes around unnecessarily, there’s a big chance, he/she is just craving for your attention. Make it a point to talk to your child about his daily routine and how things were at school. Ask questions and tell him/her about what you did in office. Not only will the child feel that his life is important to you but also feel that he holds a lot of importance in your life and so you’re sharing your experiences with him/her. I used to converse with my child even when she could not talk. He would respond by smiling repeatedly and even giggles. Your relationship with your child starts right from the time he/she is in the womb.
  • Be consistent

Just because we are in the habit of doing certain things in a certain way, doesn’t mean that our kids would know and do all of it in the same way. Once you explain your child about a certain expected behavior, give him/her time to learn. Don’t expect your child to display it correctly the very next time. Children take time to learn and IT IS OKAY to GO WRONG! Just remind your child politely. Practice this consistently for 4 weeks and you will start seeing a change for sure. I would love to hear your experience once you have implemented the desired changes for 4-6 weeks. Write to me at priyanka@babydestination.com

What not to do?

There are certain things that you should refrain from doing when you’re trying to instill good habits in your child. These methods are an absolute NO unless you want your child to be violent and disrespectful!
  • No shouting – Shouting and howling will only give you a sore throat and make your child do the same. Always speak to your child in a soft tone but be firm and explain politely. Tell your child how and why you want him/her to cultivate a certain habit rather than just shouting at him to do it! 
  • No hitting – Come what may NEVER EVER HIT your child. This is the worst way of teaching a good habit to children. In fact, what are you preaching in the first place? Hitting children gives them an impression that it is ok for elders to hit younger people or those who are weaker than them. Just let your tongue do the talking. Keep your hands by the side. 
  • Do not discourage – Even if your child is unable to follow your instructions or not doing what you say, do not discourage the child. If your child is trying but not succeeding, your discouraging words will make him stop even trying. If you continue to do so, your child may even feel like it’s no use trying since any amount of effort is not going to make you happy! 
  • Do not say words you don’t really mean – I have often seen parents telling their children that they are good for nothing and will never be able to achieve anything big in life. These words that were spoken in a fit of anger shatter the motivation of the child and break his heart completely. Children are sensitive and they carry these words with them all their life and start living according to them. Imagine hearing something like this from the people you love and trust the most and the ones who are your role models!! The other day I saw a mom screaming at her child at the airport and the next moment the child was lying on the floor and banging his hands on it. So, it can become really embarrassing and don’t forget - kids pick up what they see! One child that I know of had such harsh words embedded in his heart and he stopped performing in school. After a long time, when he had a teacher who understood the problem, got him psychiatric help and the reason that was revealed was really shocking for the parents. They really felt guilty! So, watch your WORDS. Whatever you speak today will be responsible for the kind of child you’re able to raise. Respect your child and talk to him/her courteously and your child will reciprocate in the same way. 
  • Do not compare – Parents need to understand that each child is different and his/her own set of abilities and capabilities. Do not compare your child with any other child. Stick to the logical reasoning behind each habit instead of comparing. By doing so, you’re only sowing the seeds of competition in your child’s mind. Respect your child’s individuality and praise his achievements.
We wish you the very best in your efforts to bring up your child with good habits! Want to share your mommy experience with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you