Bad Habits You Shouldn’t Let Your Tween Get Away With
We might hate to admit it, but all of us have at least one bad habit, and children are not immune to having some less-than-ideal behaviors. If you want your child to start adolescence in the best way possible, you might want to observe your tween’s habits to see where they are not making the best decisions. Below are a few common habits tweens develop that you might want to encourage your child to leave behind.
Bad Eating Habits: Place a potato chip and a piece of fruit in front of your tween, and guess which one they are most likely to grab. While it’s normal for your tween to love junk food, it’s also important to remember that your child’s body is still growing and needs nutritious food to stay healthy and strong. Make sure your tween knows what constitutes healthy eating and why it’s important. Explain that they will feel better when they eat better. Limit junk food options in your own home, role model healthy eating, and encourage your tween to make nutritious decisions.
Bad Sleep Habits: The National Sleep Foundation strongly suggests that tweens need nine hours of shut-eye each night, but only 8% of tweens are getting that amount of sleep. To help, experts recommend that parents establish an “off-time” for computers and other electronic devices, limit eating and exercising at least two hours before bed, and help your tween develop a consistent sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at generally the same times every day), which establishes their body’s own natural rhythms.
Cursing: In addition to math and history, your child will likely learn every curse word you know (and maybe some you don’t) at school. This is a habit you will have to stop quickly or your tween will be using these words to express himself well into high school. Tell your tween how you feel about cursing. If you tend to curse, then be sure to own up to your mistake, and tell him that you can both hold each other accountable to use more positive ways to express yourselves.
Playing the Blame Game: One of the major life lessons that every child needs to learn before they enter adulthood is to take responsibility for their actions. Children are famous for blaming others for everything that goes wrong, such as “it’s my teacher’s fault that I failed the test because she didn’t teach me everything I needed to know.” Do not allow your tween to get away with scapegoating others or getting out of consequences when they have done something wrong. The best way for parents to avoid playing the blame game with their child is to set up specific limits (house rules) and explain ahead of time what the consequences will be, and stick to them.
Being Disrespectful: Disrespectful behavior — yelling, arguing, ignoring you, talking back, refusing requests, name-calling — is annoying and difficult to deal with. While this type of behavior is a normal part of adolescence, you should not accept it. Take the time to explain to your child that while they don’t have to like your decisions and that it is okay to be angry with you, it is not okay to express their anger with that kind of behavior. It’s your job to teach your kids to behave respectfully and manage their frustration in a positive way.
Avoiding Chores: So many parents are tempted to enable their child to wiggle out of their responsibilities. If you want to create a responsible adult, then you need to instill responsibility now. Do not clean your child’s room, do their homework, clean the dishes on their night, or generally allow them to get out of their tasks, no matter how sorry you feel for them. The best way to make sure your tween owns up to their responsibility is to be clear about what tasks you expect, provide reasonable reminders to encourage them to follow through, and give consequences when they do not do them.
Poor Hygiene: As puberty hits, your tween’s hygiene becomes more important than ever, and they need to take better care of their bodies. Insist your tween showers regularly (especially after exercising), uses deodorant, and brushes their hair daily. Give your tween both the knowledge and hygiene products they need to take care of themselves.
Experts say that the best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. If your tween is exhibiting one of these bad habits above, it’s best to nip it in the bud (before it becomes fully entrenched in adolescence) and guide them towards better behaviors.