5 Daily Habits to Build A Nicer Child
Monkey See Monkey Do
Having good habits is the key to a more enjoyable life for everyone. I wish as an adult I had better habits. Better manners and routines would be great. My mother didn’t teach me any manners. Looking back I do not categorize myself as a nice child. I am surprised I didn’t turn out to be a rude person… okay, I am at times but not on purpose!
So many people are rude, disrespectful and inconsiderate. I want to teach all my kiddos to be kind, respectful, appreciative, and skillful. In order for me to do that I have to build a structure. A base for all of their life learnings and be able to handle difficulties without a complete disaster.
I want to build a Nicer kid. The best way to do this to be the best monkey you can be. So your little monkey will be a Nicer copy of you.
Many people have asked me a question similar to this one:
He is less than 2 years old, why do you expect so much?
I expect so much because he can do it. I would never expect him to do anything that he couldn’t do. He has always been a verbal kid. He is talking in full almost clear sentences. It has been Easier for him to learn these important skills. I said easier. Not easy! Just like I said NICER, not necessarily a nice kid, all kids can be Little Villains sometimes.
5 Daily Habits to Build a Nice Kid
1. Saying Please and Thank You
In order for my kiddos to say please and thank you, they had to hear it from me. A lot. Every time I ask for something, I say please and thank you. It has become a habit for me. A great habit that I needed to learn as well.
Growing up, I was not taught to say please and thank you…If I was my mother would have knocked some sense into me. I was disrespectful, spoiled, vulgar and downright ungrateful. This wasn’t because it was the type of person I was. That’s not me now. It was because no one taught me any different. I love my mother, but she is not a discipline. To this day she will let anyone walk all over her, bless her heart. I try to tell her but that’s just not who she is… and I wish she could stand up for herself and set some rules and expectations.
I will teach Lincoln to be everything I wasn’t growing up. Every time I handed him something I would say please and do the sign language for please. Then he started saying please along with the sign. Lincoln started out saying something that remotely sounded like, please. Now, he says please before he asks for anything. Not only is it the cutest thing! It makes me so proud that he knows to say it when he asks for something.
“Get up Mommy please,” he says as he tries to pull me up from the chair I am sitting at. We will keep working on not being so demanding… that may be a losing battle.
As for my big kids. Same goes for them, they have to say please if they want anything from me. I teach them to say please to each other when asking for something. Most importantly learning even if you say please doesn’t mean someone has to say yes. Right now we are working on not saying whatever… after a long conversation about what whatever actually means to the person you are saying it to.
Meaning, you don’t care what they have to say, and you don’t respect what they are saying. He has decreased the amount of time he uses it. I tried saying it to him when he was giving telling me a story. Of course, he didn’t like it and was put back by it…. Then I pointed out that it didn’t feel good to the person talking when you say whatever. It’s like saying your words don’t matter.
This deep conversation tactic won’t work for other kids, so you have to judge your own kid and try to see what type of methods work for you and your family. It’s always worth a try, sometimes they will surprise you!
2. Cleaning Up
Cleaning up after themselves and having chores is a lifelong skill all kids should have. They shouldn’t think everything is done for them no matter how old they are. You are their mom, not their maid. Unless you don’t have enough things to worry about.
For example, Lincoln throws all his own trash away, puts his dirty clothes in the basket. Cleans up his own toys and if he spills something he tries to clean it up( of course I have to go back and finish up). These are all things I have taught him since he started walking. He enjoys it and none of it feels like a chore because we make it a game.
I have heard people say:
I just do it because it’s going to take longer if they do it.
At first yes, but as the child gets older he will get things done faster and be able to add to their list of tasks they can help with.
Click here to read my blog on How to Teach Kids to clean up.
3. Using Their Words
This one isn’t just for the littles. Big kids have a hard time expressing their thoughts as well. It’s hard to understand what they are trying to express when they are too angry, frustrated or just mumbling.
When a child is upset and trying to talk no one has a translator for what they are trying to say. It’s practically impossible to figure it out. I have tried guessing and that just makes things worse.
Have child calm down first before trying to talk. I just tell them that I am not going to be able to understand or talk to them till they are calmed down and to come find me when they are. Then we can talk. This allows them to calm down, and me to calm down as well. No one likes to be yelled at and both parties can escalate things.
Your Toddler doesn’t talk? Start teaching sign language! We started this when Lincoln was 6 months old. By the time he was 8 months old he was using hand signals to tell us what he wanted. Having this communication skill allowed him to be happier and communicate to you their wants. Boy, do they have strict demands!
4. Putting Clothes On and Good Hygiene
Independence and hygiene skills are crucial. Lincoln just learned to pull up his pants by himself! Little feat but critical skill when being potty independent.
Good hygiene is going to be an endless battle for a boy. For some reason, boys have this idea in their heads that they are the exception to hand washing after using the bathroom. We need a huge sign on the door or better yet, an alarm that goes off when they don’t wash their hands. Inventors get to work!
As a child, I was never forced to do any hygiene skills. I did do them because I wanted to, sometimes but not as much as I should of. This lead me to have cavities, pimples and lacking hygiene habits. It was because no one told me and we didn’t have YouTube videos or Pinterest to answer all out life’s questions. As an adult, I see how important those skills, and actions are.
5. Using nice words, and gentle hands.
This sounds like something you would use with young kids. As and educator I find myself constantly saying ” Use your nice words”, and ” Be gentle”. Even with my big kiddos. Brothers and sisters fight sometimes…this is a given, but they shouldn’t be fighting all the time. If they are its time to step back and set expectations and consequences for these actions.
Then look at where they are seeing and hearing these unacceptable behaviors. It could be at school, daycare, relatives house, television, games….anywhere! Even your own home, from siblings or adults. Monkey sees, Monkey do.
We have all heard this expression used, but I never knew how important my actions and surroundings would be until I had a toddler. They mock and copy everything! I yelled at my television the other day ” What is this shi….t!” ( I’m not even sure what I was watching maybe it was a basketball game or something of that nature.) Lincoln turns from his toys and repeats as clear as day. I literally did a facepalm, mostly to cover up from laughing.
Never laugh at something you don’t want to happen again……. Turn away fast or go into the other room. Most the time not laughing isn’t an option! It is so funny! It shouldn’t be but it is…
Anyways, we have to be careful of what our children are exposed to. They are like little sponges and take in everything around them….except when you squeeze them…it does come back out. It takes a lot longer to unteach something then it does to teach it. My husband and I are going to work hard at being better at being a good example, for the most part, we are. Except when my husband playfully smacks my butt and then Lincoln does.
I want to hear your stories! Tell me a funny story when your child copied what you or someone around you did!