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My parents made a point of leading by example and instilling me with good, healthy habits during my childhood. Good manners, positivity, and creativity were just some of the traits my mother and father tried to bring out in me.
In a Forte Strong blog post about changing habits, we determined that these routines are formed through a familiar formula: cue, routine, and reward. Emphasizing helpful habits in kindergarten and continuing to stress them throughout the formative years and into high school will create a lasting impact.
By ingraining these methods early in my childhood and consistently calling back to them, my parents helped shape me into a productive adult and a successful businessman who has helped numerous people along the way.
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Positive Habits to Cultivate in Your Child
As a parent or authority figure, you can limit bad habits and encourage healthy ones to lead your child toward the confidence he needs to succeed. These are five examples teachers or parents should continue to set for children in every stage of development:
1. Be productive. Parents should put a premium on a busy, active lifestyle early on so that mindset stays with a child for years to come. Kids who see an adult leading a more productive life usually set the same standard for themselves, use time constructively, and have less idle time.
Being productive in study habits is an essential skill for your child and should be taught as early as kindergarten. Set aside a specific time after school for homework, designate a clean work space, and establish consistent expectations to help your child develop healthy work habits.
2. Be confident. In the real world, almost nothing goes according to plan. If you teach your child this, he can learn to manage his emotions and consistently feel more confident in his choices.
When I was younger, my parents cultivated confidence by steering me toward athletics and encouraging me to start my own lawn-mowing business. Those endeavors challenged my emotional resilience, my creativity, and my time management.
In his book “Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Children Roots and Wings," Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg writes, “Children who learn inner control by making decisions and facing the consequences gradually become more independent and ultimately more resilient." If you teach a child to always believe in himself, chances are he will.
3. Be an example. The greatest factor in damaging or helping your child is the example you set. Because your child is perceptive, he will pick up on habits seen frequently in his environment. For example, if you swear every time you get frustrated, your child is extremely likely to cope with stress the same way. Make a goal to rid yourself of bad habits in order to help your child create better ones.
4. Be consistent. Are you mentally and physically consistent in your child’s life, or are you all over the place? Do you spend quality time with your kids, or are you inconsistent with your time? Being even-keeled with both your emotions and presence will make it easier for your child to stay on track and remain steady in whatever he does.
5. Be persistent. Nothing worth having comes easily. The world can be exceedingly unfair, so be prepared to teach your child to work hard and fight for what he wants. Again, when I was a boy, I learned this lesson through the insistence of my parents that I finish schoolwork before I spend time outside with friends.
Recess rewards young students for a morning’s worth of good work and good behavior. Competitive athletes in high school and college play only if they make the grades in the classroom. Parents who continually show that those are privileges and not rights can help eliminate bad-habit builders such as entitlement and “affluenza."
Today’s world isn’t going to teach healthy habits to your child. With hard work, setting a good example, your active presence, consistency, and persistence, you can teach those healthy habits.
Instilling these values not only makes children into better problem solvers, but also gives them the confidence it takes to navigate adulthood in a positive, successful way.
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About the Author: Matthew Arrington is the executive director and co-founder of Forte Strong, the world’s first failure-to-launch program for men who struggle to leave their parents’ home or find it difficult to become independent. Forte Strong uses a proprietary coaching model to help students find purpose and direction, guide parents and families in empowering their sons, and ultimately create a healthier family dynamic. Matthew currently resides in sunny St. George, Utah.