8 Bad Habits Parents Need to Break – Quick!

8 Bad Habits Parents Need to Break – Quick!

Now that your child is forming lifelong habits, it’s time to quit your own bad ones.

By: Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Kids are likely to start imitating behaviors shortly after their first birthdays, according to research from the University of Washington. Most of us want to help our kids create good lifelong habits -- but the problem is many of us still hang onto some bad habits ourselves.

Here are eight big bad habits you should attempt to nix before your kid starts copying them:

1. Using bad table manners. Do you or your spouse push food onto your forks with your fingers? If so, you can expect your child will do this, too. While most 2-year-olds won’t master good table manners -- putting their napkins on their laps, not licking their fingers -- parents who don’t set an example of good manners will likely have more trouble teaching them.

2. Putting feet up on furniture. When my husband watches sports, he likes to put his feet on the coffee table while enjoying his beer and chips. While I’m all for him having his “bad” game habits, I wasn’t happy when my 2-year-old started putting his feet up when we sat down for breakfast (and he thought it was funny when I told him to stop). Fortunately, the kid hasn’t repeated this behavior in about two weeks, and I credit my husband after he stopped doing it himself.

3. Yelling. I come from a big Italian family. We’re known to get a little loud at gatherings and yell when we’re excited or angry. But I’ve had to really watch my tone lately because I’ve noticed that my toddler has started yelling at random times -- not only when he wants something but when he’s at a group playdate with other boys (and he’s the loudest of the bunch).

4. Eating unhealthily. While kids do eat according to preference, they also eat by example. A recent survey of more than 550 families found that parents’ fruit and vegetable consumption was the strongest predictor of a child’s intake of those foods. And while snacking on treats high in calories, salt, and sugar is fine once in a while, having junk food around the house -- and eating it in front of your toddler -- increases the likelihood that your little one will start asking for it on a regular basis.


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5. Cursing. For me, cursing used to be as natural as drinking a cup of coffee. I did it with hardly any thought, usually when I was elated -- but still! And when I accidentally slipped in front of a friend’s kids, I knew it was only a matter of time before I slipped in front of my toddler, so I started a “cursing jar” -- I put a quarter in it every time I said a bad word. It only took $2 to break my habit.

6. Restricting foods. Eschewing gluten and sugar may help your waistline, but making a big deal out of dieting or restricting certain food groups could have the opposite effect for your kids. Research from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia suggests that restricting tasty foods from children actually increases their desire for it. In addition, restriction can also lead children to eat when they are not hungry.

7. Watching too much TV. I love zoning out to The Voice after a hard day and my husband loves watching sports on our big flat screen. But if the tube’s always on, your toddler might be spending too much time zoning out. A 2014 study from Tohoku University in Japan looked at 276 children ages 5 to 18 who watched between zero and four hours of TV per day. Their findings suggest that more TV time could change the structure of a child's brain in a damaging way.

8. Leaving clothes on the floor. Tossing your dirty clothes on the floor may be your right as a human being, but if you want to avoid having to pick up garments off your child’s bedroom floor every night, it’s best to use a hamper and set a good example.

What habits are you trying to break before your kids pick up on them?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Image ©iStock.com/kasayizgi

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