Habits are one of those things I’ve never personally been good at sustaining. I feared that I would pass on that trait to my kids, so recently I did a deep dive on the subject to learn more about how I could help them develop healthy habits.
Encouraging healthy habits in children should be a big part of homeschooling. Not only is it beneficial for the well being of our kids, but it also helps ensure a smooth homeschool day. There are no easy tricks to quicken the process, instead it takes a lot of time and effort for both kids and parents to see significant results.
And they are so worth it!
Here are some tips to help you get started.
Kids learn from watching you.
So the first place you need to begin is with your own personal habits. If you are like me, then I recommend starting the process below with yourself before you start working with your kids. Setting a good example for our children is key to encouraging them to develop healthy habits.
Figure out what habits you’d like your children to work on.
Once you’ve developed a few healthy habits of your own, sit down with your kids and together make a list of what you’d like them to work on. With my children, I wanted them to feed the animals and start their homeschool day after getting ready head-to-toe in the mornings.
Don’t do everything on the list at once, and break down larger habits into smaller steps. For example, when we begin a new homeschool year, I only introduce one subject at a time. We do this subject, let’s say math everyday for a couple of weeks until it becomes routine. Then we’ll add a new subject on top of that and repeat the process.
Habit stacking is genius.
Have you heard of this before? I had no clue until I started my research. Basically you add your new habit on top of whatever old habit you already have on hand. For example, I wanted my kids to feed the animals after getting ready for the day. They were already in the habit of dressing themselves, so once they were done they had to go outside and feed the chickens. I had them stack this new habit on top of the old habit until it became routine. Now I don’t have to remind them, and the less nagging I do the better our homeschool day.
Celebrate their accomplishments.
I love Mel Robbins and follow her on Instagram. One of the best advice she gives, is to high five yourself in the mirror everyday. I say take it to the next level and have your kids high five themselves after completing every new habit until it becomes routine. Celebrate the small wins, it keeps you motivated.
Strengthen their willpower.
According to Charles Duhigg, willpower is the most important habit to develop because it translates to every other aspect in life. Like a muscle, willpower can be strengthened over time by doing something that challenges you and delays gratification. This challenging activity must be performed regularly in order to progress, and you must mentally prepare yourself for worst-case-scenarios for when your willpower is low. If you’ve read my previous post on grit, you’ll know the importance of having your kids do one hard thing a year. This could be taking up a musical instrument or sport or any other type of difficult goal to accomplish.
Follow the 2 Day Rule.
If you workout you’ve probably heard of the 2 Day Rule, which basically states that you shouldn’t go more than two days without exercising in order to make it a habit. So why not apply this rule to all habits we’re trying to develop? Rewiring our brain is key to sustaining healthy habits.
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and day dreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.