How to Deal with Your Child's Annoying Habits

How to Deal with Your Child’s Annoying Habits

10 April 2022 • Words by Karla Pretorius 2 mins

We all love our children unconditionally! Does that mean they can’t be frustrating or have annoying habits? Definitely not! Is it okay for you to want to know how to deal with your child’s annoying habits? Absolutely!

We know that we used to be children and annoyed our parents, so there is no harm in talking about it. Your child might have a habit of forgetting their school bag or taking forever to finish a meal. Maybe they splash water everywhere in the bathroom.

But how do we deal with our child’s annoying habits and, ideally, get rid of them? 

Identify the frustrating habit or behavior

Write the top ones down, the ones that you feel that, if changed, will make a difference in your entire family’s life. Remember that “choosing your battles,” or what I call “choosing your wins,” will also set you up for success.

Once identified, start writing stories

Include your child in this exercise, where you write down a personalized story about the event. For example, if your child takes too long to finish dinner, you can create a social story where you show them what happens if they finish their meals a little faster – they might have time for a quick game with their sibling or a longer storytime before bed. Perhaps they can play with their Legos straight after dinner (if they finish on time). We want to keep stories positive, not focusing on what happens when they take long and not including what they will miss out on. We instead want to entice our children with what could happen should they finish their dinner a little faster. This story can then be read during bedtime, and your child should be reminded of what could happen if they finish on time (before dinner is served).

Affirmation station

Once you identified the frustrations, take note of when these behaviors don’t happen – so basically, catch your child engaging in good behaviors and add that to an affirmation paper or board, where you sit with your family every night (perhaps during your now “quick” dinner) and state or show what your child did well that day. Maybe the bathroom was not flooding or they remembered their school bag? Affirmations for the entire family are always a good bonding experience, and you might be surprised how it can lift everyone’s mood.

Expectations should be clear

Our children often form habits we don’t always understand because they don’t understand what is expected. For example, do they know that taking a shower means no water on the floor afterward, or are they just enjoying themselves and not focusing on what is happening around them? Perhaps your child needs a bit of sensory stimulation, like waterplay, and this can be included at a different time of the day to provide them that stimulation? Remind your child what is expected of them during shower time, bathtime, bedtime, going to school, etc. You can write the expectations down or draw these out on a visual schedule. Gesture to this before these activities to decrease the auditory input and instructions you provide. A gentle visual reminder often reduces the stress and frustration for everyone involved.

According to Nokali et al. (2010), children’s better social skills and fewer problem behaviors are directly linked to higher parent involvement. You are doing a great job in being an involved parent!

El Nokali, N. E., Bachman, H. J., & Votruba-Drzal, E. (2010). Parent involvement and children’s academic and social development in elementary school. Child Development, 81(3), 988–1005.

Karla Pretorius

A registered counselor with a MA in Psychology. Co-founder: AIMS Global & Leadership at: Augmental