I had a classmate from primary school who we nicknamed The excavator because of his extreme nose picking habit. The worst part is what he does afterward. (Gross, I know.) Unfortunately, he carried that to high school until he became a loner. This is an extreme case but bad habits picked at a young age can grow into teenage years if they are not broken at the right time.
Toddlers can test your patience when it comes to the annoying habits they can develop as they explore their bodies and the world especially when they decide to do their things in front of an audience. Understanding why they do them and when to stop them can help in breaking these habits easily. Here are some of the most common habits.
Sucking the thumb
It might be one of the cutest thing to see your child sucking her thumb in the womb but it can be annoying when they keep at it for years. It is a natural self-comforting method when they feel hungry or sleepy but it is no cause for an alarm.
My daughter enjoys sucking her fingers – fortunately I still find it adorable but when it is too much, I hold her hands and pretend to dance with her. The best way to break this habit is to ignore that wrinkled thumb and the drool soaked neckline and to offer other distractions. But if the habit grows into childhood, it might affect the primary teeth alignment depending on how they put the fingers in the mouth.
It is another way passing time for bored toddlers. Children with allergies are most likely to have this habit as that can give them something to pick on. It is not harmful but it can help in spreading germs. It can also be embarrassing for you as it is a socially unaccepted habit. But the way to help them break this bad habit is by not nagging them about it because the more you nag them, the more they will do it.
Touching private parts
This is a natural body exploration curiosity that makes them feel good but most dreadful to the parents. Children have no sense of privacy so they might decide to do it irrespective of where they are which can be very embarrassing. But your reaction will determine how they will feel about themselves. So swallow the harsh words and try to ignore it but distract their attention every time their hands wander to their private parts.
Don’t get me wrong I love baby songs but when you daughter loves the Happy birthday song and she is joyfully listening to it for the umpteenth time, it can be annoying. This is a perfectly natural way of learning new things for children. They pick words, colors and rhythms from the repetition so it is better to share their joy by singing and reading with them until they grow up and start choosing different options.
Toddlers drop annoying habits as they grow older because they will find other ways of comforting themselves or passing time. The most successful way to break these bad habits is to understand that they are natural, to be patient and ignore them no matter how embarrassing or disgusting they may be, to distract them with other things, and reward them when you see positive changes.
This first appeared on The Standard on 18 June 2017