Habits have to be formed. Studies have found that it takes 3 weeks to establish a habit. We also know that children learn the most in their first five years of life. So it is important to start building habits with your children when they’re young.
Important Habits to Start at a Young Age:
#1. Brushing teeth.
Literally as soon as those first teeth pop in. We only get two sets of teeth in our lifetime. When I was young, I had no set routine for mouth hygiene and I have suffered tremendously as an adult. I have a hard time sticking to the routine that was never set when I was young. Dental care is not cheap. All the more reason to make sure you do what you can to avoid having expensive procedures.
#2. Washing Hands Often.
This one is HUGE. Kids just aren’t germ conscious. Their little minds can’t comprehend microscopic bugs getting in their bodies and making them sick. You may not be able to teach them about germs, but you can make sure they’re washing their hands often. We wash when we get home from the stores. We wash after going to the bathroom. We wash before eating. We wash after handling our ferrets and cleaning pet boxes. It took a while for it to sink in, and sometimes they still forget. But at least we’re establishing good clean habits.
#3. Opening doors for others.
This just goes along with being kind to others. My oldest son just turned 5. He watches his Daddy open my car door for me every time we go out. The other day we were going out to get supplies for his birthday and he opened my car door for me before I even walked out of the house. He was so proud of himself. I love seeing young children do nice things for others. It shows they’re really being raised right. Since then, he’s been opening doors for me constantly because I told him how happy it made me. Other things to teach them might be to compliment others. To not look at others differently if they’re not like you. All prejudices start when children see prejudices.
#4. Doing their own chores.
I believe any habit started at a young age will stick with you. If you don’t expect your children to help out when they’re little, you won’t be able to just wake them up one day when they’re a teenager and say it’s time to start doing laundry and dishes and mopping and sweeping. This will NOT END WELL. However, if you make sure that children start a habit of cleaning up after themselves and actually wanting to learn how to care for themselves, they will prosper as adults. You don’t have to expect your 4 year old will do a full load of dishes every night. Look up age appropriate chores and start out slowly.
While I could probably drone on for days about things to teach their kids while they’re young, I really feel like these are the most important. Staying positive through early enforcement and introduction of habits will ensure success in the future.
What habits do YOU think are important to start with young children? Did I miss any?