A lot of our habits (chewing nails, smoking, drinking, etc.) come from a result of a loop: cue, routine and reward. The cue is known as a “trigger”, or initial image that sends our minds into an automatic mode that pulls us to do something. For many people (myself included), the cue to make a morning cup of coffee comes from walking into the kitchen.
A routine is the particular action for the routine - such as making a cup of coffee in the morning. Then, the “reward” component is, no surprise here, the reward for performing the habit. This how a habit is formed.
The key, then, is to find a “cue” for your kid(s) so they can consciously be triggered to begin the habit process. Let’s look at several healthy habits that will educate your children, teach them valuable life skills and find happiness as a successful adult.
1. Build YOUR Healthy Habits
As a parent, you are Role Model #1 to your kid(s). They will emulate you and pick up your behaviours. Set the proper example, yourself, by incorporating healthy habits into your day. They will learn from you; watching TV all evening, drinking alcohol and smoking regularly sends a bad message.
2. 10 Minute Tidy-up
It may be tremendously difficult to explain to your kid(s) that, yes, one day they’ll be an adult. As an adult, they’ll be living on their own and will have to keep it clean and liveable. My mother, when I was a teenager, would clean up my room whenever I messed it up. Later in life, I had to physically learn how to pick up after myself - and teaching myself self-discipline wasn’t fun in the least bit. (It is now.) Everybody has 10 minutes to spare: here’s a small list of things that you can tidy in 10 minutes.
My younger brother is often bored. What does he do? He watches TV. When he’s bored with TV, he goes downstairs to play video games. When he’s bored with that, he comes back upstairs to watch TV. His attention suffers, he is often sad, and is overweight (at 13-years old).
This shows us the important of challenging your kids to exercise by “races.” Not only does this establish the habit in them, you both become healthier as a result. A bonus for teaching your kids to exercise regularly: Many of the world’s richest people exercise first thing every morning.
4. Saving Money
One thing I’ll never understand is why most schools don’t teach students how to save money. Whether we had to learn how to save money from someone else, be that parent, friend, or online article, money-saving is an intelligent life skill that literally saves lives. The habit of saving money is paramount to living life well.
Here are two easy ways you can inspire your little one(s) to save their money:
• Save money (in front of them) and lead by example
• Agree to match any money they save (similar to a 401k)
Whether we need five, six or nine hours: sleep is crucial for developing who we are and our growth. For example: what we learn while awake is absorbed into knowledge while we sleep. Sleep enhances our memories and spikes our attention, and it is important to use a quality mattress for a good sleep.
You may have heard about lab rats who were purposely kept awake 24/7. This literal sleep deprivation killed them; showing us that sleep deprivation can lead to death. (The chances are rare - but it has happened.)
Not sleeping results in agitation, poor focus and concentration, and increases chances for making mistakes. A lot of kids don’t want to sleep: preferring all-nighters with their friends or on their Smartphone. This is where you’ll have to be the bad guy and lay your foot down to get them to sleep.
6. Brushing Teeth
Brushing teeth can be a hassle, make a game of it by rewarding your youngin’ every day they brush their teeth. Aside from saving you money in dental care expenses, having your kids daily brush their teeth additionally sets them up for success. This “processing system” teaches your children how to streamline activities more efficiently, thereby increasing their productivity.
7. Eating Frogs
If you haven’t heard of “eating frogs” by now, it is a philosophy - a way to slaughter procrastination. In this case, a “frog” is a task that you have to psychologically force yourself to complete. The advantage of doing this “Herculean task” first, is that (once you get it out of the way) you have more free time to do easier, more fun things.
Hence the extreme importance of teaching your kids how to eat frogs.
People know (and want to be) Bill Gates (worth $78 billion last year). Gates has attributed a lot of his success to his unending lust for knowledge, shown by Gates’ reading list. Gates has often said “Reading is the main way I learn new things and test my understanding.” (That’s coming from a man who quit Harvard to start Microsoft, by the way.) Gates has also admitted that part of his nightly routine is reading a book for an hour before bedtime. Sound familiar?
9. Full Breakfast
For one thing, breakfast improves concentration and our focus levels. It also increases our strength and physical stamina. Studies have shown that a full breakfast helps children perform better.
A few protein-packed breakfasts (that are easy to make) are:
• Berry and yogurt smoothie (banana, berries, greek yogurt, water/milk)
• Avocado toast with sunny-side up eggs
• Egg breakfast muffins (spinach, bacon, eggs, cheese)
10. Drink More Water
You and I both know the importance of water, and how vital it is to our life. Among the many benefits of water include:
• Improves performance
• Spikes energy levels
• Keeps skin young
Here’s a homework assignment for you: next time your kid wants to drink soda, show them a video of things soda can clean. (If it can clean a toilet, imagine what it does to our insides!) Encourage them to veer away from soda towards water.
For a real-world example of the importance of incorporating habits in your kids, take Michael Phelps - owner of 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold. During one of his swimming races, Phelps’ water goggles filled up with water. He swam blind.
Rather than stopping to adjust his goggles or fiddle with them, Michael kept swimming. Believe it or not, his swimming coach Bob Bowman made Phelps swim hundreds of laps in a pool - in the dark. This sort of habit/preparation was an event that Phelps planned for.
Swimming in this way became automatic, and this automatism helped Michael get another gold (and a world record). Nobody can argue with Michael Phelps’ track record - he won “World Swimmer Of The Year Award” eight consecutive times, the “American Swimmer Of The Year Award” eleven times, and is the most decorated Olympian of all time. Implementing these habits today cannot be overstated.
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