Danielle Venticinque is a health and wellness guru, actress, creator, and mom. During the pandemic, she created Thrive Betterment personal growth products that incorporate jewelry with wearable progress reports that cultivate accountability and self-management. She wrote a blog post for the website Twin Cities Mom Collective titled "Helping Children Cultivate Habits" to highlight a few ways in which you can help your child build and form new and healthy habits. At the beginning of every new year, the majority of people, as we know, create resolutions and try to convince themselves that they are going to rebuild themselves by working out, or reading more, going to church, etc. However, the focus of these new habits is rarely focused on how to create these new habits and make them stick. As a parent, you are considered to be a model for your child, planting seeds and cultivating the foundation for good habits. First, Venticinque discusses what makes a habit because in order to help your children with new habits, it's important to understand what really makes a habit. Every habit consists of a psychological pattern that is referred to as a "habit loop." This loop is a four-part process. The first of those being, Cue. A cue is a trigger that predicts the reward. We each have our own set of cues that are shaped by our past and they signal the brain to start the next step of the process: Craving Mode, which is the motivation behind every habit we have, good or bad. Without our cravings, we have no reason to act because each of our cravings is linked to our own desire in order to alter our internal state. The next part of this process is response, which is the behavior that is enacted because of a thought or action. The last part of this process is reward, which is the end goal of every habit that makes it worth repeating. Rewards can come in a variety of different ways. They can come in the form of dopamine, the feel good chemical, or food, time outside, etc. Another important concept that Ventincinque discusses is routines. For children, cues or triggers often accompany routines and the predictability of a routine can create a safe and secure feeling for a child. You can try fitting the new habit into your everyday routine, which may take a few dozen reminders, but it will add some structure to really implement it into your child's life. This theory goes along with the 21/90 rule that states that it takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to make a lifestyle change. Remember that when working with children to establish new practices, consistency, patience, and repetition are crucial. Another way to establish a new habit with your child is to try the practice of this then that. Have them complete the undesirable task first then they can be rewarded by doing or receiving something that they want. In terms of rewards, completing the new task may not always be tangible, so words of praise and approval may be the best kind of reward in that regard. These types of rewards help to nurture their intrinsic or internal motivators. Lastly, be a role model for your children. They are constantly observing and/or mirroring our behavior, so it is important that you hold yourself to the same standards that you are expecting and asking of them. New habits are not impossible to create and implement into you or your child's daily lives, but consistency and encouragement are key and you have to be persistent in your efforts in order for them to stick.
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