9 Poor Habits that Children Inherit from Their Parents

9 Poor Habits that Children Inherit from Their Parents

Parental influence is pivotal in shaping children’s habits and behaviours. From fostering emotional development to instilling discipline and values, parents play a vital role in moulding their children’s character and habits. Understanding this influence sheds light on the profound impact parents have on their children’s lives, underscoring the significance of intentional and supportive parenting.

Parental Influence on Child Development

Parental influence holds immense power on child development and is one of the fascinating topics in psychology!

  • Attachment: A safe and secure attachment with parents fosters emotional development which will provide a foundation for healthy relationships later in life.
  • Socialization: Parents play a crucial role in teaching children social skills, values, norms, culture, and empathy that help build conscientiousness shaping their behaviour and interaction with others.
  • Cognitive development: With the help of interaction of stimulation, parents can work on their child’s cognitive abilities, language skills and problem-solving abilities.
  • Emotional regulation: Parents teach children how to identify and manage their emotions, which is important for their emotional well-being and resilience.
  • Discipline and boundaries: It is important to set clear boundaries and provide consistent discipline to help children develop self-control, responsibility and respect for others.
  • Role modelling: Parents are the role models for their children, and they influence their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in various aspects of life.
  • Self-esteem: Parents who support, encourage and praise their child, contribute to the development of their child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Academic success: The involvement of parents in academic areas, such as helping with homework and encouraging a love for learning, can positively impact a child’s academic achievements.
  • Health and well-being: Parents play a vital role in promoting healthy habits such as proper nutrition, exercise and good hygiene practices. 
  • Long-term outcomes: The way parents influence their child can have long-term effects on a child’s overall development, in terms of mental health, career choices and relationships.

Overview of How Habits are formed and Passed down

Habits are nothing but learned behaviours that become automatic with time through repetition and reinforcement. During early childhood habits are formed by associative learning specifically operant conditioning. Lets know how it works:

  • Acquisition: Children acquire new habits by associating some specific behaviours with rewards or punishments. For e.g., If a child cleans their room and receives praise or a treat, they are more likely to repeat that behaviour in future.
  • Reinforcement: When assisted with consistent reinforcement, kids strengthen their ability to associate the behaviour and the outcome. Positive reinforcement such as praise or rewards increases the chances of the behaviour being repeated negative reinforcements, such as removing an unwanted stimulus, can also reinforce a behaviour.
  • Cue response reward: Habits are often formed because of a cue-response-reward pattern. A cue triggers or stimulates a behavior, the behavior itself is the response and the reward that follows the behavior is what reinforces it making it more likely to occur in the future. For ex- A child may automatically brush their teeth (response) after seeing their toothbrush (cue) because they know it leads to a clean and fresh feeling (reward).
  • Habit loop: Over time, habits get ingrained in the kid’s routine and neural pathways. The habit loop is made up of a cue, the behaviour and the reward. On repetition of the loop, behaviour becomes more automatic and less reliant on conscious decision-making.
  • Persistence: The habits that continue to be practised and reinforced tend to persist into adulthood. The neural connections associated with the habit get stronger, making it difficult to break the habit without conscious effort.
  • Repetition: Repeating a behaviour over time may strengthen the habit. The more a behaviour gets practised, the more automatic it becomes.

9 poor habits that children get from their parents:

  1. Unhealthy eating patterns
  2. Neglecting physical activity
  3. Ineffective Communication skills
  4. Procrastination and time management issues
  5. Lack of self-discipline
  6. Negative attitudes towards learning 
  7. Inherited stress and anxiety
  8. Excessive screen time
  9. Lack of Financial literacy
1. Unhealthy Eating patterns

If parents have unhealthy eating habits, children can learn to pick unhealthy foods over healthy choices. They struggle with portion control and develop poor food choices. Parents must model healthy eating habits and provide a supportive environment for their children to build a positive relationship with food. By offering nutritious meals, encouraging portion control and promoting a balanced diet, parents can help their children establish lifelong healthy eating patterns.

2. Neglecting physical activity

If parents spend most of their time being engaged in passive activities or just sitting, children may adopt a similar sedentary lifestyle and miss out on the benefits of physical activity. When parents don’t actively encourage their children to be physically active or participate in sports or outdoor activities, children may not develop a positive association with exercise.

3. Ineffective communication skills

If parents don’t give proper attention when their children are speaking, it makes them feel that their thoughts and feelings aren’t valued, leading to poor listening skills. If parents resort to aggressive or passive-aggressive communication during conflicts, children may mimic these behaviours and find it difficult to express themselves effectively. If parents don’t teach their children to communicate assertively, they may struggle with expressing themselves confidently and respectfully.

4. Procrastination and Time management issues

Children often observe and imitate their parents’ habits. If parents have been procrastinating frequently or seen struggling with time management, children may adopt similar habits and find it difficult to prioritize tasks and manage their time effectively. If parents don’t establish consistent routines or provide guidance to organize tasks and manage time, children may struggle with planning and prioritizing their responsibilities.

5. Lack of discipline

When parents fail to establish consistent rules and boundaries. Children tend to struggle with self-discipline as they may not get a clear understanding of what is expected of them. If parents frequently make promises or set expectations but fail to fulfil them, then children may learn that they can get away without fulfilling their commitments or responsibilities.

6. Negative attitude towards learning

When parents keep expressing negative opinions or frustrations about school or learning, children may internalize those attitudes and form a negative mindset towards academics. If parents fail to provide positive reinforcement or show interest in their kid’s academic progress, it can contribute to a lack of motivation and a negative attitude towards learning.

7. Inherited stress and anxiety

A stressful family environment like frequent conflict or financial difficulty can contribute to increased stress and anxiety levels in both parents and children. Parents who can’t manage stress and anxiety may inherently pass on ineffective coping mechanisms to their children.

8. Excessive Screen time

Excessive screen time can reduce time for meaningful parent-child interactions which are crucial for healthy development and building strong relations. If parents don’t provide other physical activities or encourage other forms of play and interaction children may stick to screens as their primary source of entertainment.

9. Lack of financial literacy

When parents don’t teach children about money, they may struggle with managing finances, overspending and lack savings habits. It is necessary to educate children in this matter early on. By providing guidance, setting a good example and encouraging open conversations about money. Parents can help their children develop strong financial habits that will help them throughout their lives.

Related: Teaching Financial Literacy for Better Mental Health

Reference +
  • Sciences, N. A. of, Engineering, & Medicine,  and. (2016, November 21). Parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK402020/
  • Oxford University Press. (2017, November 1). How parenting influences the lives of children. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/book/1250/chapter-abstract/140178454?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  • Experts, K. M. (Ed.). (n.d.). Your child’s habits (for parents) | nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/five-habits.html#:~:text=Experts%20aren’t%20always%20sure,to%20soothe%20an%20anxious%20one
  • Parents: Role models and positive influences for pre-teens and teenagers. Raising Children Network. (2021, November 5). https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/behaviour/encouraging-good-behaviour/being-a-role-model#:~:text=What%20you%20do%20shows%20your,you%20say%20is%20also%20important

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