11 Effective Methods to Teach Children Good Habits

“Through others we become ourselves”

Lev Vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky was a psychologist known for his theories on child development. This quote implies the importance of social environment and relationships in children. Interactions with caregivers, family, peers, etc have a significant role in shaping a child’s identity. Children adapt and learn from their surroundings. What the child values and follows is highly influenced by the immediate environment in which he or she is nurtured. A child learns habits from his or her parents, elders, siblings, family, and peers. Directly and indirectly, the world around the child shapes and develops him or her into an individual.

Read More: Parenting with Neurodiversity: Nurturing Diverse Minds

In this article, we will see 11 ways to develop good manners and habits in children. Before diving into the ways to develop these habits it is crucial to learn how children learn. Observation, conditioning, reinforcement, and role modeling, are one of the many ways in which children grasp knowledge, learn and develop habits.

Let us understand two main ways one by one in detail one by one.

How do Children learn?

A. Learning through observation

Observational learning occurs through learning by observing the behaviour of people around us. A child learns through watching, memorizing, and mimicking the habits and behaviours of its immediate environment. Hence it is important to raise your child in a healthy surrounding. He or she will observe your behaviour, and try to mimic the same. For eg: If a child observes that his mother or father respects their elders he or she would adopt the same values and principles. Culture also plays an important role in shaping values and beliefs.

B. Reinforcement

A child is more likely to do something if he or she receives positive reinforcement in the form of praise and appreciation. They refrain from doing things that receive punishment or discouragement. If a child gets praised for cleaning her toys then he would be more eager and motivated to clean his toys to receive that praise.  On the other hand, if he observes that lying is discouraged, he would most likely refrain from lying. In this concept, learning is fostered by strengthening and or weakening certain behaviours. We will see a few more concepts regarding reinforcement later.

Read More: 10 Helpful ways to motivate your Child

Methods to inculcate Good Habits and values in a Child:

11 Effective methods to Teach your Child good Manners
  • Create a positive environment: It is vital for you as a parent to create a positive environment for the child. It fosters better adaptability, the overall well-being of the child, and a safe space for them to express their needs and wants. Studies show that having a positive environment makes children more motivated to explore and learn new things without a lot of hesitation and fear.

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  • Understand your child:  Every Child is different and therefore each child would have a different pace and method of learning. Understanding what your child adapts the best will help you inculcate good habits and manners smoothly and validate them.
  • Make them responsible: Teach your child to be responsible. You can make them understand what responsibility is by taking small steps. You can assign small tasks or chores for the same. For eg: Encouraging him or her to wind up their toys after playtime. It would teach them that “ I am responsible for keeping my toys in their place.”
  • Value education: Teach them basic values and etiquette through stories in the form of videos or books in a fun way. For eg: books like Panchatantra and Jataka tales.
  • Be present: Being present and involved is extremely important for both parents during this process. Even though some parents might be working, being there for their children during infancy is crucial for their overall development.
  • Practice before you preach: You should be your child’s role model. They should seek inspiration from you and be motivated to adopt good manners. If you don’t clean your room it is unfair to keep expectations from your children to do the same. Inculcate and develop good habits in yourself first and then implement the same for them.

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  • Limit their social media and Internet use:  Even though social media does promote well-being, children do not have the insight and knowledge to filter what’s right for them and what isn’t. They are very vulnerable to being influenced by others. Moreover, along with the internet and even some popular TV shows your kid enjoys might be promoting unpleasant behaviours. For eg: some shows portray kids as being extremely rude to their peers, and this might instigate your child to behave in the same way. Hence you should have a thorough check about the content your child is exposed to.
  • Positive reinforcement:  As we saw previously, reinforcing is a way that your child learns new things. Praise your child after they do something good, even if it is a small step, encouragement goes a long way. Appreciating them when they finish their food, clean their rooms, help a friend, etc will encourage them to continue doing that.
  • Negative reinforcement: This involves the removal of an undesirable or unpleasant stimulus to encourage good behaviour. For eg: Telling your children to study for an exam to avoid getting a bad grade or reducing or cleaning their room to avoid mess.This way a child will do a certain task to avoid the unpleasant situation.

Read More: How to Handle Children’s Dictatorial Demands

  • Balance: Be steadfast and kind at the same time. There will be situations when your child will disobey you and act ill-mannered. Set firm boundaries in that situation by being firm and explaining the consequences of their behaviour. Tell your child that it is okay to make mistakes once in a while, but encourage them to learn from their mistakes and create room for improvement.
  • Be patient: It is extremely necessary to be patient with your child. Things may take time to be implemented, do not lose your cool and set age-appropriate expectations without pressurizing them to be perfect in every situation. 

Read More: Effects of social media on children’s mental health

Take Away

Now that we know every child is different it is important to understand what techniques would suit your child’s needs. Refrain from shaming your child if he or she fails to meet certain expectations. Fostering empathy and a sense of trust is extremely crucial for your child to feel safe to reach out to you if they face any difficulties inculcating good habits. Let them explore what they value the most. If you feel that it is difficult for you to manage due to various reasons, consider taking the help of a professional counselor or therapist to understand your child better.

References +
  • Baker, J., & Baker, J. (2023, November 26). What Is Negative Reinforcement? Examples & Benefits. SplashLearn Blog – Educational Resources for Parents, Teachers & Kids.,results%20in%20the%20desired%20behavior
  • Dev, W. (2024, March 5). 11 Ways to Develop Good Habits and Manners in Your Child – KLAY Schools. Klay School.
  • Lissienko, K. (n.d.). How children learn. KidsHealth NZ.
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