Parenting these days is not easy. We’re all desperately trying to do best by our kids, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Today I’m going to go over 12 good habits for kids that can help give you a good framework for your kids.
This list covers 12 healthy habits for kids that will help them do well in school and eventually turn into well-rounded responsible adults. The list covers everything from daily hygiene habits to social interactions with others.
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12 Good Habits for Kids to Practice in 2021
If you’ve ever been on a playdate or two or sent your kids off to school, then you are intimately aware of the fact that you don’t want your kid to be “that kid.” The one that gets picked on because they forgot to brush their teeth or hair that morning.
The one that doesn’t get invited to birthday parties because they don’t get along with others. Or even worse the one that’s picking on other kids for being different.
We want our children to get along with others, fit in, and be happy. As well as being well-behaved children who eventually turn into productive members of society.
That’s usually our number one goal as moms. We want our kids to be able to leave the nest one day and know that they will be happy and successful.
All of that starts with instilling good habits in our kids at home. It’s our job to help teach them the skills they need to succeed at school and eventually out in the rest of the world.
This list of good habits for kids will give you a good framework to help get you started.
How to teach good habits to kids
When it comes to teaching good habits to kids, my best advice is to start slow. Pick one or two habits on the list that your family isn’t already practicing and start there.
As your child gets used to the new habits, you can add in a few more and so on and so forth. Some may take longer to get used to than others, but before you know it your child will be rocking everything on the list.
Make sure to include lots of praise and rewards when you can. Most kids enjoy getting positive feedback, so definitely focus on that more than the negative.
And where possible, make it fun. My kids always love sticker chore charts to use for motivation. They enjoy getting the little prize or reward for a job well done.
Plus, they always make things a little easier for me to keep everyone organized and on track.
1.) Practice good handwashing
In this day and age, it’s no surprise that handwashing is at the top of the list. With a global pandemic still running around and everyone wearing masks, handwashing is super important for kids.
Your kids need to be washing their hands:
- After they use the bathroom
- Before and after meals
- After coughing or blowing their nose
- After playing with animals
Kidshealth.org has a great handwashing article and video for kids. I find it helpful to periodically review it with my kids to remind them of how to do it properly.
Kids easily get in a hurry and can revert to old habits of rushing through if they aren’t reminded on occasion on how to do it right.
2.) Brush your teeth twice a day
Next on the list of good habits for kids is to brush their teeth morning and night. Dental hygiene is very important for kids.
They start getting their adult teeth as early as 5 and 6 and those teeth need to last them for their entire lives. The sooner they learn to take good care of them the better.
This is also one of those things that can have a big impact on their interactions with their peers. If they’re the kid who has yellow teeth or bad breath, they could possibly get teased or picked on by others.
Some kids take a while to become aware of how their own personal hygiene affects others. As moms, we can help with that by instilling these habits early on.
3.) Take a bath or shower every day
This might seem silly to put on the list, but you would be surprised at how often kids will skip out on bathing if you let them. Especially as they get older and they start to manage their own hygiene efforts.
Bathing helps to keep everyone fresh and clean. A bath also helps to clean any areas that kids might miss as they start to handle some of their own hygiene habits.
Things like handwashing and wiping while potty training. We eventually need them to learn to do it independently, but it’s nice to know that a bath each day helps clean any areas that got missed.
As our kids get older, they need those baths to help keep clean all those areas that are developing as puberty hits too. This is also the time when being the kid that smells can have a big impact on their social interactions.
4.) Wash your face and comb your hair every day
The next healthy habits for kids is to wash their face and comb their hair every day. This is just one of those simple tasks that helps present a neat appearance.
Especially if your kids bathe at night, this can help to clean everything up and have them ready to leave the house in the morning.
As your child gets older and puberty kicks in, washing their face can make a big difference in helping with things like acne and breakouts.
5.) Be kind to others
Beyond teaching our kids basic hygiene habits, I think this is one of the most important things we need to teach our kids. They need to know how to be kind to others.
This includes things like sharing toys, being a good sport when you lose, or just considering the feelings of others in what we say and do.
Children have a huge capacity to be kind when they are young and it’s important that we, as parents, nurture that. We need to teach them how to be empathetic and think of how others are feeling.
We can model being kind to others as parents, as well as talk about and encourage that behavior in our kids. Here are some examples you could practice with your child:
- Help them understand how someone who is being left out feels and how they could work to include them.
- Help them to understand the perspective of someone less fortunate than them.
- Encourage volunteering.
- Talk about bullying, the effect it has on others, and how to stand up to it.
- Practice random acts of kindness.
- When they do or say something unkind, talk with them about how they are making someone else feel, and encourage them to think about how that would make them feel if it was done to them.
Kindness is definitely something that takes time to learn, but with regular practice children can easily grasp this habit even when they are young.
6.) Pick up after yourself
If you have ever stepped on a toy while walking through the house late at night, you definitely appreciate why this habit is so important. Children need to learn, the younger the better, the importance of picking up after themselves.
Not only is cleaning up important just for keeping a house maintained and helping keep everyone inside healthy, but it sure makes that person a lot easier to live with!
We owe it to ourselves (and our children’s future spouses) to help teach them how to pick up after themselves. I have found chore charts and having a regular cleaning routine helpful to keep my children cleaning without all the fuss and drama.
When it’s something they do almost every day, it becomes a lot less of a struggle because they are used to doing it. Plus, the mess is usually smaller, so it doesn’t take as long to clean.
7.) Be polite to others
This good habit for kids is definitely high on my list of things that children need to know how to do. Children (and adults for that matter) need to know how to be polite.
I didn’t grow up in a household where we used Sir or Ma’am, but you better believe, if an adult talked to me, I responded with a polite tone of voice. This included teachers, doctors, co-workers of my parents, you name it.
I also think this is something important that kids should be practicing with other kids. With children interacting online so much, it’s becoming easier and easier for the skill of being polite to get lost.
They don’t have as much face-to-face interaction as we did growing up, so they aren’t required to deal with the consequences or being rude to someone’s face.
This can be a real disservice when our kids need to go out into the rest of the world and they don’t have the skills necessary to interact well with others.
8.) Exercise every day
The next healthy habit we need to teach our kids is to exercise regularly. Exercise is so important for their growing bodies.
- Improve their overall health
- Increase concentration
- Improve their performance at school
- Encourage healthy growth and development
- Improve confidence and self-esteem
- Get sleep better at night
These are all things that are important for the health and well-being of our children. With more time spent in school, on screens, and electronic devices, as parents, we have to put a little more effort into ensuring our kids get opportunities to be active every day.
Some good ways to encourage your kids to be more active is to:
- Enroll them in sports
- Have regular playdates
- Take them to the park
- Go for family walks
- Start a family sport
- Encourage them to play physically active games
9.) Eat a good variety of healthy foods
The next healthy habit for kids we need to be teaching is to eat a good variety of healthy foods. A healthy diet makes sure our kids get the nutrition they need for their bodies to grow and develop properly.
According to familydoctor.org, a healthy diet helps with academic performance, mood, energy levels, and helps prevent a lot of health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
As an adult who has had to work hard to develop healthy eating habits, I can definitely tell you it’s a lot easier to learn when you’re younger. The earlier we can instill this in our children, the more successful they will be at maintaining it into adulthood.
If you have been parenting for more than a minute, however, you know that getting your kids to eat anything besides peanut butter and jelly and chicken nuggets can be a struggle. I won’t pretend to be an expert on this (my youngest still treats pb&j’s like a food group), but here are a few things that have worked with my older kids:
- Introduce a large variety of foods when they’re young.
- Keep offering foods even if they don’t like them at first. Sometimes it can take a while for their taste buds to get used to new foods.
- Model good eating habits.
- Eat family-style.
- Make meal-time enjoyable.
10.) Personal responsibility
One of the habits I think is super important to teach our kids these days is personal responsibility. This means taking ownership for your thoughts and actions and whatever consequences occur from them.
This could be as simple as owning up to being the one who knocked over and broke the special picture frame in the living room. Or a little more complicated, like apologizing for not sticking up for a friend who was being picked on.
It’s important for our kids to learn to take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming them on other things or people around them. When children own up to their actions, good and bad, it helps teach them valuable lessons for the future.
How many times have we seen people struggle to make changes in their lives because someone is always “coming to the rescue.” By teaching our kids personal responsibility, we will help them develop the skills they need to be successful with their peers and as adults.
11.) Daily chores
Next on the list of good habits for kids is daily chores. Children need to do some sort of chore each day that helps contribute to the family household.
I’m not saying kids need to earn their keep, but it is important for kids to learn a good work ethic and a sense of community.
Chore helps kids learn:
- To work hard
- The value of keeping a clean home
- Teamwork and how to contribute to a community
- Independence and self-reliance
- Life skills
12.) Get enough sleep each night
The last habit we need to be teaching our kids is how to get enough sleep at night. Rest is so important for our children’s bodies and brains to grow and develop.
They need a good night’s sleep to do well in school and perform at their best. And this is absolutely a skill that we can help them learn.
Healthychildren.org has these recommendations for how much sleep kids need each night:
- 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours a night
- 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours a night
- 12-18 years old: 8-10 hours a night
The best way to help your child with this is to help them learn good bedtime habits and to focus on a good bedtime routine.
Thoughts on good habits for kids?
So there you have the best good habits for kids to practice in 2021. Our job as parents is to help prepare our children so they can have a happy, healthy childhood.
And eventually become a happy, healthy adult. These 12 healthy habits for kids will help set them up for success.
What habits do you feel are important to teach your children? Comment below or email me at Candice@littlestepsbighappy.com. Follow me on Pinterest for more parenting tips and advice.
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I’m a busy mom of 3 turned Health and Fitness Coach and Self Defense Instructor. I help inspire other moms to reach their health, fitness, and weight loss goals. You can usually find me chasing my kiddos around, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or sneaking away to read romance novels. About Me