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How to form a habit in a pre-teens

Habits. Hmm.. Psychological research for decades describes a habit as the consistent action that one repetitively gets into through associative learning. The associative learning further aligns and makes activations towards the exposure on the contextual cues. In simple words, if an action is repeated again and again, it becomes a habit.

Now that you know how a habit is formed, being a parent you would always want your pre-teen to have good habits. We know that you do have a list of good habits already in your mind but the problem arises somewhere else.. It's integral to know how many days a pre-teen will take to convert an activity into a habit. And how you, as a parent, can help them in learning new and good habits.

Let’s walk through it together

You know I am a big fan of science because science is very logical. And ofcourse they do have a logic behind habit formation too. Let’s understand the very famous law, called Law of effect which states that:

"responses that produce a satisfying effect in a particular situation become more likely to occur again in that situation, and responses that produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again in that situation"

Trumsy always suggests to appreciate and reward your kid if they have done something good. Why? Because we know that a pre-teen won’t entertain anything which will not bring pleasure to their mind. Now how is this related to the law of effect, well, let’s understand this with an example.

Suppose your pre-teen is done with dinner. The next thing that you would recommend is to brush their teeth. Now why will they do that? They aren’t currently aware about the dental finishing cost and pain, hence they won’t take your instructions seriously. But what if you say that if after dinner they brush their teeth, then you would be playing a board game with them or taking them out for cycling? A reward will definitely bring pleasure to their mind and they will surely brush their teeth. Now again on another day, they will brush their teeth in the same hope that you have a plan of doing something interesting with them. This pattern when repeated for some good amount of time, becomes their habit because this habit brings rewards and subsequently a satisfaction. So be careful when you make promises while making your pre-teen adapt a certain habit.

How long does it take to build a habit?

Many of the sources on the Internet show that it takes 21 days to create a habit. A recent study has proved that a habit can take anywhere between 18 days to 266 days to form. It all depends upon how fast the mind fits into the pleasure of doing that particular task. On average it takes 66 days to turn an action into habit. Also do keep this in mind that the formation of the habit depends on the level of habit. Many of the research states that an easy habit takes on average 25 days to build and a hard task takes 55 days to convert into a habit.

Also this fact will help you in getting a new habit for your tween. Make them do a task 4 times a week in order to build this habit. Don’t forget consistency is important while pursuing any habit, so be the watchman and monitor how consistent they are with the task undertaken. And you have to also assure that while they do that task keep that going on in the interesting aspect. The number of times the tween repeats the activity will show their consistency. Consistency is the foundation of forming a habit and changing lifestyle. While keeping these 66 days in mind, it is important that you get your tween to pursue one habit at a time so that they can remain consistent towards that task.

How to help your tween in developing a new habit

Jot down the habits you want to inculcate into your tweens and prioritize it as per their lifestyle and age. Do not overdo it, else you will fail to get it executed and your tween will no longer be interested in your recommended habits. Additionally, make sure you create a link between your new and old habits and play it sequentially so that it's easier for them to stick to new changes and behavior.

Create frequent reminders for your tween so that they won’t struggle with it. Sometimes since teens have a lot going on in their mind, they might not be consistent. Remember, Out of sight , out of mind. A great idea will be posting notes around your house so that it reminds them or you about the task they have to do.

Now below are the important checkpoints that you need to perform:

  • If your tween is consistent with the undertaken action to form a habit, bring on appreciation .

  • Keep motivating them till you see the new habit fitting perfectly into their routine. .

  • Analyze if without reminder do they remember the task that they need to perform.

  • If yes, it’s time for the reward. Take them out to their dearest ice cream corner and treat them with their favorite flavor.

Check if without the reminder or your follow up your teen is doing that task or not?

Remember the below mantra

Do it once = Action

Do it twice = Repetition

Do it a few times - Behavior

Do it multiple times = Habit

Do it for a year = Lifestyle

You are on the right path, just keep going!

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