Childhood years are where many people develop life-long habits; children form habits and coping mechanisms in response to discomfort or boredom. While most children grow out of habits without intervention, it’s also common for these habits to cross over into adulthood.
Not all habits are detrimental to the well-being of kids, but there are seemingly harmless childhood habits that negatively impact development. It’s important to understand how to handle obvious coping mechanisms, such as the best approach to wean a child off thumb sucking, but there are less apparent types of childhood habits that are important to nip in the bud.
Learn which childhood habits impact development and how to help your child outgrow them to ensure they develop healthy coping mechanisms for adulthood.
Staying Up Late
Bedtime refusal haunts the evening routine of many family households. A sleep schedule is imperative to the mental and physical development of children and for maintaining good health in adulthood. If your child has a habit of staying up late, it’s important to establish a routine that helps them form a positive association with going to bed at a reasonable hour.
Chewing on Objects
Chewing on fingernails and other non-food objects is a coping mechanism people adopt in childhood to relieve stress and boredom. An excessive chewing habit comes from children needing oral motor sensory input, but it impacts the alignment of teeth and can affect oral health. Chewing on external items also places children at risk of ingesting harmful substances and germs. Replace the items your child frequently chews on with healthier alternatives like dry fruit or an oral sensory toy.
Regular Sugar Consumption
Regular sugar consumption in your child’s diet can turn into a life-long habit of choosing foods with high sugar content. Childhood obesity leads to a myriad of health issues like diabetes and heart disease, and it can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem. If your child is in the habit of exclusively choosing foods high in fructose corn syrup or sugar, it’s important to teach them the value of moderation and provide healthier alternatives.
It’s natural for children to form habits in their developing years. It’s important to track the habits that can impact your child’s well-being and follow them into adulthood. When negative habits take root in childhood, it becomes increasingly difficult to break them in adulthood. Be mindful of stressors that may trigger habits in your child and provide alternatives to help them maintain the sense of comfort that habitual behavior gives them.