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Home >  Information A-ZAll Kids Information Articles Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking Bad Habits:

Sometimes it may be difficult to think of a child in terms of their needing to break a bad habit. Bad habits are something adults develop that they need to worry about, right? Not always, unfortunately. Even small children can develop bad habits that need to be broken, including sucking their thumb, biting their nails, chewing on long hair, and a variety of others.

There are a few tricks that a parent can employ to try to help their child break their bad habit. Some of these may work with your child, and some may not. The important thing is to try as many as necessary to help your child break this habit as early as possible.

Small children often have a hard time understanding why they need to stop doing something, and they will need help to stop doing it, because, most likely, it is an unconscious thing they do to begin with.

It is important to break the habit early simply because the longer a child does something the harder it will be to stop. You may not hear of many kids who still suck their thumb when they are 15, but this doesn't mean they don't exist. In fact, many parents have stories of their older children (even kids in their teens) that still do their habits from when they were babies. These are things that the child also wishes they could stop, but they do it when they don't even realize it.

While the ideas listed below may not help your child, they might, and it is worth giving them all a shot:

• Bring it to their attention—you don’t want to punish your child for doing it, and you don’t want them to feel bad for it, either. You simply want to make them aware when you see them doing it so that they will be able to make the decision to quit.

• Take preventative measures—this is an especially good one to use if you have tried to bring their attention to the problem and they haven't stopped, or if they do it in their sleep, etc. This can include such things as putting the nasty tasting stuff on their thumb to prevent them from sucking it (this can be bought in many stores) or by cutting their hair short if they insist on chewing it.

• Threatening them with the preventative measures—this should take place before you actually do one of the things listed above. Again, you will not want to threaten them with punishment for doing it, you will just have to explain to them that you are trying to help them stop, and if they aren't able to do that on their own, you will help them along with it by doing what is necessary.

• Explain why—just telling your child to stop doing something is rarely enough to make them stop, especially when it's a habit they have had for a long time. You should be honest with your child and tell them why you think it's important that they stop. Explain that if they bite their nails all the time, they can get sick from the germs or that it is hard to make friends when they are 18 if they are still sucking their thumb.

You may try all of these tricks with your child, and none may work, but trying them can't hurt anything. It is also important to remember that however hard it is to break this habit, now, it will be much harder as they get older, for both you and your child.

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