Establish habits in 4 easy Steps

Have you ever struggled with getting your child to eat veggies?

Getting them to do homework?

Clearing up their toys

Get ready for school in time

I am sure you are thinking, oh yes, oh yes. I know, we have all been there. And somehow, and I have maintained this throughout my episodes, that if we are struggling with something with our kids, it’s because we aren’t able to understand their thoughts and feelings. Also we don’t know what else to do. It seems like a dead end and that’s why the frustration. It doesn’t have to be this way. So today I will share with you one plan I learned when I did my recent course on The ABC of Parenting from Yale University.

To give you a background, I was struggling with my lo not willing to do her homework or any type of writing activity especially during the pandemic. And after a full day of work yourself, you don’t have the patience to make it fun and be all upbeat and playful about it. You just want to get it done, click a picture, send it to the teacher and be done with it. So what did I do? This course that I did shared a beautiful programme that can be applied to kids when setting up new habits. So here’s what the programme looks like step by step.

Step 1: Identify the goal behaviour. In my case it was her completing one page homework every day.

Step 2: Now the next step is to create a prompt, something that would help shape the behaviour. So for example, in an enthusiastic tone, I told her that we will be playing a homework game where mamma will give a page to write and then a star or smiley once she finishes. Most children will join in just because of the enthusiasm.

Step 3: Next and this is crucial, lower your expectations to begin with and subsequently raise the bar. For the first day, even if your child writes one letter, or one line and has joined you with enthusiasm, it’s a win for you. The most important part of this learning for me was to identify that writing one page would a 4-5 year might be hard, howsoever simple we may think it is. So start small and build it up. It’s like how you establish an exercise habit. You don’t run the whole 5 miles on day 1. You build it up. So keep your focus on the fact that your child joins the activity without resistance.

Step 4: Once your child has finished the activity, praise him or her and give reward. Whatever you think is best. I just gave smileys and stars.

This programme worked like magic for him. No more nagging, crying, yelling. Simply make a request and get it done. Now the next question you may have is how long can this go. You can keep raising the bar for completion of the activity every few days and stop once the desired outcome is achieved. You can use this method to set up any habit. Feel free to reach out me if you are struggling to set up any habits. I will be sure to help you.

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