With the New Year upon us what better time to talk about changing some habits. Why is it that habits are certainly easy to acquire, but difficult to change? I saw a book on The New York Times Bestseller list about “Habits” and I am committed to reading it this year.
I know that we started many “bad” habits when my husband and I were new parents, and I talk to my patients every day about not doing the same things I did.....but, even with that knowledge there are several recurrent habits that I wish parents would try to change....or better yet, don’t start.
Here you go!
#1 Do not have your baby/child sleep with you (unless they are sick). This is a recurrent theme in my practice and the conversation typically starts when a parent complains that “I am not getting enough sleep, my child wakes me up all night long”. Whether that means getting in the habit of breast feeding your child all night long, or having your two year old “refuse” to go to sleep without you...children need to be independent sleepers. Some children are born to be good sleepers while others require “learning” to sleep, but either way your child needs to know how to sleep alone. I promise you...their college roommate will one day thank you.
#2 Poor eating habits. Family meals are a must and healthy eating starts with parents (do you see a recurrent theme?). I still have parents, with 2, 3 or 4 children who are “short order cooks” which means they make a different meal for everyone. Who even has the time? Sounds exhausting!! Even cooking 2 meals (breakfast, dinner) a day for a family is hard to do for 20 years, but enabling your children to have poor eating habits by only serving “their 4 favorite foods- is setting them up for a lifetime of picky and typically unhealthy eating. Start serving one nutritious family dinner and let everyone have one night a week to help select the meal. Beyond that, everyone eats the same thing. Easy! If they are hungry they will eat.
#3 No electronics in your child’s room. If you start this habit from the beginning it will be easy....if you have a TV in your child’s room when they are 6-8, good luck taking it out when they are 13-15. First TV in their room should be in a college dorm. For older children make sure that you are docking their electronics outside of their rooms for the night. Everyone will sleep better!
These may sound easy....so give it a try.
Happy New Year!