Breaking Kids' Bad Habits

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Whether it's thumb-sucking, nose-picking, picky eating, bad manners or other annoying habit, many kids drive their parents crazy. But there are ways to break your kids of bothersome rituals. First of all, harping on them to quit doesn't work.

Punishment probably won't, either. When you want to break your child of a nasty habit, then it's time to get creative. If there are health concerns about the habit, like nose picking or thumb sucking, which can transmit germs, then explain why it's important to stop. Don't use words like "yuck" or "gross" in reference to the habit; this can foster feelings of rejection. Plus, getting a rise out of a toddler just eggs him on. Offer a bandage for the child's finger or thumb to discourage picking or sucking. If the dinner table is your family's bad-habit battleground, then picky eating or bad manners may be your complaint. If you're tired of being a short-order cook, then allow your child to eat like an adult.