The Myth of (bad) Habits

Each habit serve some purpose. Good or bad habits are relative perceptions. More often parents and children lock horn on habits because of this relative perception. Let’s question some of our beliefs around bad habit and burst the myth around bad habits.

Out latest article on The myth of thumb sucking has raised quite a bit of interest. We are receiving load of comments – on both sides of the issue. We felt a rejoinder is in demand here and hence present to you – The Myth of (bad) Habits and some thoughts to lead you to insights, possible solutions and definitely more peace of mind.

Most of our reactions emerge from some of our beliefs. At times we are not even aware of those beliefs. Here we present series of some beliefs with regard to bad habits of children. Irrespective of you agree or disagree, try to play around with these beliefs and see if it can brings some effective change in your life. To help you do that each belief statement is followed by few questions. Take it with an open mind. Here we go :

  1. We as parents assume that one of our key responsibility is to ensure that our children do not pick up bad or inappropriate habits. What kind of controls does this belief lead to?
  2. We believe and operate from the fear that if we do not correct them they will not know what is right or wrong. Instead of imposing right and wrong, lead them by examples / discussions /consequences. In what ways will we develop their wisdom, intellect and sense of responsibility?
  3. We believe that only by (consciously and repeatedly) correcting can we avoid a bad habit from establishing itself. What happens when we constantly correct somebody? How does it make us feel and how does it make the child feel? What worst can happen if we were to leave the child alone?
  4. We believe that if bad habits are not REMOVED in the childhood, they will invariably be a part of child’s adult life. Think how many of your childhood habits are with you still? Why did you leave some and why some are with you still? What made those which are still with you stick to you? What made some go away? Were some of them just passing phase?
  5. We believe that children are incapable of finding an alternate more appropriate way of fulfilling their needs. We also assume that only by our telling the child will the child know if something is inappropriate? Instead of pointing out – in what ways can I empower the child to become more conscious, more resourceful and more enterprising?
  6. We believe that bad habits are just BAD for the child and serve no purpose. What could be the needs that the ‘bad’ habit is satisfying? How important are those needs?
  7. We believe that just because a child is not ‘improving’ on his habit he does not want to give it up. Hence we believe that we need to reprimand and pull the child up for this. What happens when we encourage the child in his or her efforts to give up a habit? In what ways will encouraging effect both of us?
  8. We believe that child forms habits by conscious behavior. Hence, we also believe that conscious effort to stop the habit will prevent the habit? What will happen if habits were a need of our sub-conscious (and originated from there)? Would sub-conscious habits be better changed through sub-conscious efforts – for example through “affirmations”?
  9. We believe that once a habit is formed it cannot be given up easily. Is it that the habits are difficult to give up or is it that we are just not aware of better ways of giving it up? Maybe we just need but are not “wanting enough” the habit to go away? Maybe we haven’t found replacement or alternate way to fulfilling whatever need the habits fulfill?
  10. Finally, we may believe that all of above are TRUE. We may also state that “Since, I do not have an experience to the contrary; I would continue to hold to it. How limited or expansive is your experience and is there room to questions beliefs formed on this – leading to fresher insights? How can I explore limitations put by my own beliefs? Maybe the grass is greener on the other side