How to Help Your Child Build Habits That Last

How to Help Your Child Build Habits That Last

How to Help Your Child Build Habits That Last 1600 1067 Dr. Terry

In this blog, we’re going to talk about How to Help Your Child Build Habits That Last. Developing good habits is a fundamental part of raising happy, healthy, and successful kids. Habits are like building blocks, and when we help children create positive ones, we lay a solid foundation for their future. They can impact everything from a child’s behavior and emotional well-being to their academic performance and relationships. 

The importance of developing a positive habit

We have all heard that habits are important. But did you know that habits can have long-term effects across many areas of human development? Habits become shortcuts for our brains, allowing us to do important tasks without having to think so hard about them once the pathways of the habit are ingrained in our brains. Children who develop habits like eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are more likely to continue these habits into adulthood. These habits can help prevent chronic diseases and promote overall health and wellbeing. 

Habits such as practicing good hygiene, doing chores, and completing homework on time can promote responsibility and discipline. On the other hand, routines such as regular family meals and quality time with parents can promote positive relationships and social development.

Habits can also be especially important for children who struggle with attention, organization, or behavior issues. Establishing consistent habits and routines can help these children better manage their time, stay on task, and regulate their behavior.

When children learn how to form positive habits, they are more likely to continue making good choices as they grow and develop. That’s why it’s crucial to take a thoughtful and creative approach when introducing new habits and finding ways to make them stick.

How to create lasting change?

But let’s face it, creating habits and routines is HARD, especially when it comes to kids. Children have their own ideas and preferences and are often resistant to change. Thus, getting them to adopt new habits and routines can be an uphill battle and sustaining them can be a more daunting task. Habit-forming is also a gradual process that requires patience, consistency, and support. Children need to learn how to set achievable goals and develop the self-discipline necessary to sustain them. 

So how can we – as parents and caregivers – encourage our kids to develop healthy habits and stick to them over the long term? Here are some tips that we can try:

Start with one habit at a time.

Trying to establish too many habits at once can be overwhelming for both parents and children, so start with one or two small habits and build from there. For example, if parents want their children to start brushing their teeth regularly, they can start by having them brush their teeth once a day and gradually work up to twice a day. It’s also essential to choose a habit that’s age-appropriate and achievable for your child. 

Set clear and specific goals.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve and why. Do you want your child to develop healthy eating habits, exercise regularly, or get enough sleep? Clearly communicate what you want them to do, how often, and for how long. This will help them understand what they need to do and what is expected of them. Goals should also be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Once you have a clear goal, you can create a plan to achieve it. And don’t forget that sometimes you have to set smaller intermediate goals before reaching the ultimate end goal. 

Create a visual reminder.

Visual reminders can be a helpful tool in helping children create and maintain new habits and routines. Use a chart or calendar to track progress and place it in a visible location where your child can see it every day. This can help keep them motivated and focused on their goals.

Use positive reinforcement.

Praising children for their efforts and accomplishments can help motivate them to continue with the habit. This can be as simple as saying, “Great job!” or “I’m proud of you.” You can also use rewards to reinforce good behavior. Just make sure the rewards are appropriate and consistent with the goal.

Lead by example.

Children learn a lot by watching the adults around them. For example, if parents want their children to develop healthy eating habits, they should model healthy eating behaviors themselves by choosing nutritious foods and limiting junk food. If parents want their children to become regular readers, they should read themselves and share their love of reading with their children.

Be consistent.

Children thrive on predictability and routine, so it’s essential to stick to a consistent schedule. Make sure to follow through with the habit every day, and don’t skip a day. For example, if parents want their children to establish a regular bedtime routine, they should aim to follow the same routine every night, such as taking a bath, reading a story, and going to bed at the same time. 

Involve your child in the process.

Children are more likely to stick with habits if they feel like they have a say in the process. Ask your child for their input on the habit and let them choose how to reward themselves for completing it. For example, if a child wants to start exercising regularly, parents can involve them in choosing an activity they enjoy, like biking or swimming, and set a goal to do it together a certain number of times per week.

Encourage self-reflection.

Children can learn to sustain habits better if they understand the benefits of the habits they’re forming. Encourage your child to reflect on how their habits make them feel and the positive impact they have on their life.

Make it fun.

Habits and routines don’t have to be boring. Parents can make habit-forming activities more fun by turning them into games or offering small rewards. For example, make a game out of cleaning up toys by setting a timer and seeing how quickly they can put everything away.

Celebrate milestones.

Celebrating milestones, no matter how small, can help keep children motivated and engaged. Parents can celebrate when their child reaches a certain number of days or weeks of sticking to a habit or achieving a specific goal.

Be patient and flexible.

Creating habits and routines takes time and patience. If a child struggles to stick to a new habit at first, parents can offer encouragement and support, and help them identify strategies to overcome obstacles and continue working toward their goal. They should also be prepared for setbacks and be willing to adjust their approach if a habit is not working out as planned. 


Creating and sustaining good habits and routines for kids can be a fun and rewarding part of parenting. By providing children with structure, consistency, and opportunities to learn and grow, parents can help their children thrive and succeed in all areas of their lives. Just remember that forming and sustaining habits takes time and patience, but the benefits are well worth the effort.

Check out our other blogs if you want more parenting tips! If you have any questions, reach out to us and we’d be happy to help.