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How to Teach Children Good Habits

by Felicia Nelson, studioD

Every parent longs for the golden child. OK, maybe not perfect, but one that is helpful and hard working. The one who always offers to clean the neighbor's gutters or bring in the groceries from the car after a shopping trip. While no child is perfect, there are ways that parents can effectively instill good habits in their child to help create a well-rounded and responsible adult. No one said grooming children for adulthood would be easy. Teaching children the good habits needed for a responsible life requires patience and persistence.

Tell your children what is expected of them. For example, if you want them to put their toys away after they are finished playing with them, tell them they need to clean up after they are finished playing or they will not be able to go outside later.

Show your child how to do something correctly. If you want your child to dry the dishes before she puts them into the cabinet, demonstrate how you would like the dishes dried before they are put away.

Act the way you would like your children to act. If you want your children to be more polite in public, then let them see how polite you are to people around you. If someone cuts you off while you are driving, don't shout or curse. Instead, use a calm voice and let your daughter know that that driver just made you angry.

Create a game based on the habits you want your children to have. Turn clearing off the kitchen table and cleaning their room into a game with prizes or small rewards if they finish their chores in a specific amount of time. If you have toddler or preschool age children, an appropriate reward would be a piece of candy or a quarter for their piggy bank. A good reward for older children who have demonstrated good habits for the month could be a new book or video game.

Be consistent in building good habits in your children. It takes time to build up a routine of cleaning their bedroom everyday and brushing their teeth at night. After a few weeks of consistency, these new habits will become natural behaviors.

Items you will need
  •  Small prizes


  • Join your children in whatever activity they are doing. For example, if you are trying to teach your child to brush his teeth every night before bed, brush your teeth with him. Brushing your teeth with your child daily will make the learning process more fun for him.


  • Your child will sometimes break his good habits once in a while. If your child goes to bed one night without brushing his teeth, don't come down too hard on him. Just remind him that he forgot to brush his teeth and that he will need to do it as soon as he wakes up in the morning.

About the Author

Based in Nelsonville, Ohio, Felicia Nelson has been writing since 2007, covering a variety of business and personal finance topics. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in digital communications at Franklin University.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images