As adults, we have a fairly difficult time embracing a good habit and following through it. Whereas instilling good habits in kids is a fairly easy task and I realised this fact only after my baby girl was born. Shayla has turned a year old and she is now at that stage of life where she’s quickly picking up words (as best as she can), imitating our behaviours, grabbing random objects around the house, and many more bizarre things!
While all this is quite amusing, manners and good habits should never take a downward slide in your list of priorities. As a father, it is also very important to me that she develops good habits that will shape the kind of person she becomes in the future!
So, here’s a little ritual my wife and I have started – teaching Shayla manners by inculcating words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in our day-to-day speeches! We have also started teaching Shayla some of the basic good habits that require nothing but simple discipline to follow through.
- Go to bed early: Since this habit seemed like a pretty easy one to start with, my wife and I started taking turns putting Shayla to bed by 10 p.m. every night. It was obviously non-negotiable! Babies need minimum 8 hours of sleep and should be up and about by 8 in the morning. It is a habit that helped a lot of other habits and mannerisms fall into place. Ensure that your kid has had plenty of water and has used the bathroom before sending them off to bed. We noticed a positive shift in Shayla’s attitude (reduced crankiness) once this habit had been properly instilled.
- Play outdoors every day: I love adventure sports and spending time outdoors! However, since my daughter came along, our house itself has become this gigantic roller coaster taking us for rides. Shayla is extremely fond of our neighbourhood parks, loves playing with the other kids. So, we always make it a point to take her outside every day for at least 1 hour. Young kids and toddlers need all the Vitamin D they can get to have an overall healthy development of the body and mind. Encourage your kids to spend as much time outdoors as possible and refrain from slothful activities such as video games or watching TV.
- Do not interact with strangers: I think almost all parents out there will agree with me that kids are highly impulsive and too trusting with strangers! Don’t get me wrong, I want my daughter to have healthy encounters with people around her and make lots of friends, but until she’s old enough to judge what’s good for her and what’s not, it’s my duty to protect her from anything or anybody peculiar! Parents must also initiate the discussion about ‘good touch and bad touch’ early on in their kids’ lives.
- Brush your teeth every morning and every night: My wife and I bought Shayla her first toothbrush and toothpaste just a few days back and she is a pro at using it! At first, we thought she would hesitate or just hold the brush but in no time she was putting the brush in and out of her tiny mouth! We even got her a new baby toothpaste. Get your little angel a new toothbrush, not only will they probably surprise you, but its an awesome habit!
- Wash your hands: This is a very important habit for kids of all ages. Shayla crawls – ALL the time, everywhere. You can only imagine how filthy her tiny hands get. Not only did we make it a point to make her wash her hands before meals, but every time we come home, we walk straight to the washroom, turn on the faucet and tell her ‘Wash your hands’. Amazingly, it took very little time for the habit to settle in and now she even knows when to use the soap!
- Drink lots and lots of water: New and tiny babies do not need as much water, is what doctors tell you. However, I strongly believe if you get kids into the habit of drinking water early on in life, they’ll eventually grow up liking it and the habit will stick around. I know this is one area I need to work on, even now!
Kids are very adaptable and intelligent. You might just get surprised at how fast they are learning new things and habits! They also love imitating their parents and those around them, so make sure you set a good example for your child at home.
What is that one good habit that your kid picked up very early in life? Do let me know in the comments below.