When I get my kids into good habits doing important tasks regularly, they get done with much less effort. Making their bed, feeding pets, unloading dishwasher etc. It not only reduces the amount of nagging needed, strengthens their self-discipline, and shares the workload.
They get into a habit of helping so you don’t have to do it all.
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Getting kids into good habits is as much a lesson for us as parents. We need to be in healthy habits ourselves, we model what we want them to do.
It’s pretty simple to create habits, but it’s not always easy.
Like a lot of things, it takes self-discipline to enforce self-discipline. This is where the work is for me because I don’t always want to do it even as an adult.
THE 80/20 RULE
In all honesty, I haven’t always followed through every single time things need to get done, but it hasn’t really changed the effects of the work I have done when I am self-disciplined.
If I have followed through 80% of the time, the other 20% doesn’t cause much negative effect on my progress.
We want our kids to help out and that means we have to know what we want them to do and when we want them to do it. The expectations need to be clear. There are a few things that can help you get them started in some good habits.
MAKE SURE THERE IS A GOOD REASON FOR THE TASK
One of the biggest reasons I have had good success is because I have always worked really hard to communicate WHY I want them to do whatever it is I’m asking of them. When they understand why you’re teaching them a particular task, and if it’s reasonable for you to expect them to do it, there is often less resistance.
This doesn’t always mean they agree the job is important, it won’t change the fact they have to do it, but it will help when they are left to do it on their own.
START SMALL AND MASTER ONE AT A TIME
Start with tasks that are smaller actions, 2-3 minutes or less.
Making sure the ones you choose are the most helpful for you and meaningful for them to learn.
Get them doing one habit 80% of the time before you add another.
CREATE HABITS FOR DAILY TASKS
The first things I try to develop habits in;
- Personal hygiene, eg showering, brushing their teeth
- Putting their washing out each night
- Opening curtains/windows in the morning
- Making their bed in the morning
- Feeding pets. walking the dog
- Unpacking school bag/lunchbox
- Getting ready for school the night before
- Having homework completed on time
GIVE THEM AGE APPROPRIATE TASKS
Its a big deal for a parent to get the age and stage of ability right with your child before giving them a job. Making the job too hard is one way you can go but also not expecting much of a very capable teenager is also a trap. There are plenty of online resources for age-appropriate chores and tasks that you can research.
My rule of thumb is that they should be able to take of their own belongings, bedrooms, and personal hygiene. Make sure you give a decent amount of support while they are learning new tasks and keep helping as long as you think they need it. Once they have that down, they can start helping you out around the house.
The benefits of having kids in a few good habits are plenty. They respect the work you do a little more now they know what it takes. You get a chance to thank them and praise them for a job well done instead of being annoyed they don’t help. They value what they have done and often less likely to let things get that bad again.
When we teach them self-discipline, they also learn self-respect and in turn, show respect for others.