12 Bad Habits Kids Learn From School and How to Stop Them
There's a lot your child is learning in school besides seemingly complicated math and advanced vocabulary. As your little one works on developing his or her independence and social skills, they're also forming new routines — some of which can be less than desirable. From staying up late for homework to becoming addicted to technology the second they come home, these are the 12 bad habits that kids form from going to school and what parents can do to stop them.
When kids aren't interested in what their teacher is saying, many let their minds wander. While occasional daydreaming isn't a bad thing, a lack of focus is a problem when it becomes more common than not and begins to impact your home time as well. Get your kiddo to focus inside and outside of the classroom by engaging in exercises that promote active listening skills and following directions.
Even if they aren't a picky eater, staying on a healthy diet a school can be hard thanks to sugary snack selections and less than ideal lunch options. When you add in packed schedules and easy access to delicious treats, making wise food decisions can feel nearly impossible. Instead of giving your child lunch or snack money, get them involved in packing their own lunches to teach them the importance of (and finding the fun in) making nutritious decisions.
Not Washing Hands
When you're not there to remind your child to wash his or hands after the bathroom, playing outside, or before eating, you might be surprised how quickly they completely forget about the sink entirely. Don't belittle or shame your child over concerns about this hygiene issue. Be clear about the importance of hand washing, when it is expected, also consider sending them to school with hand sanitizer to encourage disinfecting without necessarily having to break their busy routine to run to the bathroom.
Trying to Get Away With Texting — When They Should Be Listening to You
Just because kids aren't allowed to text in class doesn't mean they aren't. Thanks to their love of technology and instant connection, many often spend time mastering how to discreetly communicate in class when they should be paying attention. This new skill can be infuriating at home when you're trying to have an important discussion or engage in a family meal. Avoid the problem altogether by insisting on unplugged times when everyone has to leave their technology in the same spot while enjoying some in-person interactions.
While their friends might laugh and egg them on in school when they talk back to a teacher, there's nothing funny about this habit. If you hear or experience your child talking back, put an end to the cheeky responses by working to determine the cause of their outburst, being consistent with consequences for rude behavior, and being sure to focus praise on polite gestures.
Using Bad Language
Kids definitely have their own lingo and favorite words amongst groups of friends but when a bad word or rude expression makes the list, it's important to make it clear what's funny and what isn't. While a lot of the appeal to these words comes from the reaction from peers, kids also draw on the attention they receive from you. Curb their potty talk by explaining the meaning or inappropriateness of the word without overreacting and make sure that you're modeling an equally clean vocabulary.
Don't let classes and school work physically weigh your child down. Teach them how to pack their bags strategically at the end of the day to avoid bringing home any unnecessary weight. If the textbooks are always needed, consider starting a homework buddy system that is responsible for bringing the books and emailing copies of the assignments each week to avoid everyone carrying the weight each day.
While it might seem perfectly normal to make observations about someone, especially when discussed among friends, it's important for parents to teach their little ones the power of their words and just because a person isn't around to hear you doesn't mean that it's okay to say it. It's equally essential that your child understands that the intention behind his or her comments is just as important as the words they use — especially when talking about someone.
Leaving Kids Out
Even if your child is the sweetest kid you've ever met, it's possible they are some other child's "mean kid" without you even realizing. Oftentimes kids get swept up in friend groups and peer pressure and don't even realize that they are forming cliques — let alone the negative impact it could be having on another person. It's important to not only model inclusive behavior but to also always explain the importance of empathetic behaviors. While some kids are naturally more intuitive when it comes to how others are feeling, others need parents to guide them on how to recognize when they aren't being open to others.
After spending all day without the opportunity to watch whatever they want or use their technology, many kids go straight for the tablets, phones, computer, or TVs as soon as they get home. Put an end to this immediate need for technology by limiting screen time to certain hours so they don't rush to their devices immediately after walking through the door.
Completely Relying on You
Helicopter parents who get overly involved in their child's assignments unintentionally get their kid into the habit of taking less initiative in their schoolwork. They can also prompt them into feeling secure that they will have someone there to bail them out or do it for them. Break your child's dependence by taking a step back yourself and letting your child experience what happens if he or she forgets their assignment, doesn't take notes, or doesn't give themselves enough time to finish a project.
Pulling Late Nights
Just because your child isn't cramming for college finals doesn't mean the late nights haven't already begun — or won't soon. Prevent this after-hours homework cycle from forming early on by working together on time management skills even from a young age and getting into a healthy (and early) homework routine at the start of each school year.