Family Meeting: Focus On The Power Of Habit

Tonight's family meeting is focusing on the power of habit. We realized that the things we nag our kids for (homework, messy rooms, being ready for school, flossing teeth) are really just the absence of habits. Nagging them isn't changing the result. This shouldn't be surprising. Habits are usually built with a reward. So, we need to teach them how to build a habit.

I teach my clients about the power of habit in our Body Back program, so why not teach this powerful lesson to my kids. The book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a great resource for any kind of habit change. The author describes a habit as "a choice that we deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about, but continue doing, often every day."

- First off, ask your kids how much of what they do each day is already a habit. A study by Duke University said that 40% of our daily behaviors are in fact habits.

- Then, ask your kids about a few things that they would like to change. Sometimes it is adding a habit (like making your bed) and sometimes is it taking one away (like biting your nails).

- Researchers have found that every habit has a cue, a routine and a reward. It's called a habit loop. Help your kids figure out how to build a habit loop. For instance, if your son wants to stop biting his nails, ask what does he feel or what happens before he starts. He needs to understand the cue. Give him another thing to replace that routine.

In life, we usually try to do too much, too hard, too fast. Each family member should pick one habit to work on for the next week. Just one. Create a poster or calendar where you measure success. Create a reward for achieving a daily habit for 7 days.

It's a powerful gift to teach kids that they have control over building the habits in their life. Take one at a time. Success begets the next success.

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