5 Habits I Wish I Never Let My Kids Develop

Family Matters on 08.23.11
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Photo Credit: Sarah Fernandez

Sometimes it is so much easier to let our kids do something rather than going through the trouble of fighting them on it. And sometimes we start something without realizing that it will snowball into a bigger issue. But the fact is that it is a lot harder to break a habit than it is to not let the habit form in the first place. There are a few things that I let my five year old son do that have created issues in our household and now with a two year old daughter in the house, I'm very aware that I'd best not let her form the same habits so that I don't have to break the same bad habits of two kids. Here are the five habits I wish I never let my son develop:

Falling Asleep in My Bed- When my son was two and switched to sleeping in a big kid bed, we had a combination problem of him not wanting to go to sleep in his own bed and also being wired and not ready to go to bed because he couldn't make it through the day without a nap, but if he took one, he wouldn't fall asleep at a normal bed time. As a result, we said he had to be in bed, but that we would let him watch TV (see below) which happened to only be in our room. The result is a now five year old who insists on going to bed in our room whether he is watching TV or not. We have had weeks here and there where we've broken the habit but inevitably a special occasion pops up when we let him into our bed and that's the end of all progress. Never mind the fact that he is now so big that it breaks our backs to move him into his own room each night.

Watching TV Before Bed- Yes, I know this is a pretty bad one. What was once a single show somehow turned into show after show. What started as a way for us to get some peace in the evening and have him try to settle down turned into a bad habit. Now that he doesn't nap during the day, it's not as much of a problem because he falls asleep within minutes, but it's still linked to the issue of him wanting to sleep in our bed. If we had just stuck to books, we could have broken the habit earlier since they can easily be read anywhere.

Drinking Juice at Home- It didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time because lots of toddlers switch to having some juice once they are old enough. I'd seen a million moms do it before I had my own kids and just assumed it was a natural progression. But the problem is that my kids will rarely touch a glass of water. Even though I always give them 80 percent water and 20 percent juice, I wish I had kept juice for special occasions outside of the house.

Wearing Sweatpants to School- My son was once the best dressed baby in town with his embroidered whale pants and oxford shirts. But slowly the sweatpants moved in and before I knew it they'd taken over. Rather than tell him that they could only be worn for play and that he needed to dress more nicely for pre-school, I now have a kid who is heading off to kindergarten and only wants to wear sweatpants instead of "hard pants" a.k.a. chinos or jeans and no shirts with buttons. Besides the fact that he has a closet full of hand me downs and gifts that are either considered "hard pants" or buttoned shirts, I also think it's important that he dresses appropriately for school and life in general. There are certain times and places when certain clothes aren't appropriate and he needs to know when and where those times are.

Eat in the Living Room- It seemed simple enough to let him have a snack or cup of milk in the living room while he was watching a show. We typically eat dinner in there ourselves (another bad habit we need to break). But besides the crumbs that constantly need to be picked up even though we have a dog, there are also the spills-no matter how small they are- that just add to the wear and tear of the rug, hardwood floors, and furniture. Considering that it's not cheap to have any of those things, cleaned, replaced, or refinished, I hate to imagine how much better shape they'd all be in if I'd never let food in the hands of toddlers enter the room.

Sure, all of these habits are breakable. And no, they shouldn't even be that hard to break. But what I've learned with my younger child is that it's so much easier to say no to someone who has never been able to do something than it is to change the habits of someone who has been doing something for years. I'm much more adamant in making sure she doesn't develop the same bad habits, but in order to keep that going as she gets older I'm going to have to break the habits of her older brother. Plus I'm not doing him any favors by not breaking them as it is really me who caused the habits to form by letting him develop them.

What habits do you wish you never let your kids develop?

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