Breaking habits in small children can sometimes be difficult. My children have picked up on some habits that I’ve had a hard time stopping. They have gotten time outs, toys taken away, been rewarded for positive behavior and so on and yet we still have some issues. I know kids aren’t perfect and I don’t expect them to be. However, I do expect for them to not do a few of the things they constantly do.
My kids are five and six and they have a bad habit of picking up on words that aren’t appropriate. Once they know they aren’t supposed to say a certain word they think it’s really funny. Once one of them says it, they’ll start laughing and repeating it. I was at a loss at what to do when nothing else was working. Soap even came to mind, but I can’t bring myself to do the whole soap thing. I know some parents do and it works for them and that’s fine. I just don’t see it working for our family.
My kids also love to tattle and this drives me crazy. Our house isn’t really all the big and I’m a stay-at-home mom so I’m always here with them. I see a lot of what goes on and I hear a lot too. I don’t need the kids coming up every five minutes to tell me what the other has done. They know they are supposed to worry about themselves and my husband and I will worry about the other child. Yet, this is a habit I’ve yet to break.
Lying doesn’t happen a lot around here, but from time to time it does and I don’t allow it. My kids know that they will get in trouble if they get caught lying. They also know they will get in less trouble by being upfront and honest and yet they still tell lies from time to time. That is another behavior that is hard to break in small children.
Being rude or name calling is also not allowed in our house. We have a rather odd last name and when you are in first grade and Kindergarten kids can often confuse it with another word. As they get older I’m sure this will continue as some kids just enjoy teasing other kids, but I hope it isn’t an issue. My daughter has come home upset because a little girl she knows calls her a mean name at school. It has upset her and she really doesn’t like it. It’s hard for her to remember how she feels when she is the one doing the name calling. As soon as I remind her that she doesn’t like it she’s pretty good about stopping the behavior. I hope that she’ll start to remember how it feels before she starts doing it and it will allow her to not do it at all.
As I mentioned before we have tried several ways to curb these behaviors and have been unsuccessful. My kids started getting an allowance a few weeks ago when school started. Now that they have their own money and love getting it I finally realized what I should do. I set up a jar in the kitchen and the kids have to put a quarter in any time they do one of the above mentioned behaviors. They do not like giving away money they have just earned. We go to the gym on a regular basis and as you walk in there is a gum ball machine. The kids love bringing a quarter from time to time to get a gum ball. If they have to put a quarter in the jar I’ll simply let them know that there went a gum ball. They can really relate that way and it seems to work pretty well. We’ve had the jar for a few weeks now and it doesn’t have many quarters in it. This makes me happy. I never really thought of having the kids literally pay for their mistakes, but for some reason it works. We’ll be using this method for as long as it needs to be used!