Parenting these days is not easy!
We’re all desperately trying to do our best for our kids, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. In this post, I’m going to go over 18 good habits for kids that can help give you a good place to start.
This list covers 18 healthy habits for kids that will help them do well in school and eventually turn into well-rounded responsible adults. The list covers everything from daily hygiene habits to social interactions with others and building good character.
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You Don’t Want Your Kid to Be “That Kid”
If you’ve ever been on a playdate or two or sent your kids off to school, then you are intimately aware of the fact that you don’t want your kid to be “that kid.” The one that gets picked on because they forgot to brush their teeth or hair that morning.
The one that doesn’t get invited to birthday parties because they don’t get along with others. Or even worse the one that’s picking on other kids for being different.
We want our children to get along with others, fit in, and be happy. As well as being well-behaved children who eventually turn into productive members of society.
That’s usually our number one goal as moms. We want our kids to be able to leave the nest one day and know that they will be happy and successful.
All of that starts with instilling good habits in our kids at home. It’s our job to help teach them the skills they need to succeed at school and eventually out in the rest of the world.
This list of good habits for kids will give you a good framework to help get you started.
How to Teach Good Habits to Kids
When it comes to teaching good habits to kids, my best advice is to start slow. Pick one or two habits on the list that your family isn’t already practicing and start there.
As your child gets used to the new habits, you can add in a few more and so on and so forth. Some may take longer to get used to than others, but before you know it your child will be rocking everything on the list.
Make sure to include lots of praise and rewards when you can. Most kids enjoy getting positive feedback, so definitely focus on that more than the negative.
And where possible, make it fun. My kids always love using sticker chore charts for motivation. They enjoy getting the little prize or reward for a job well done.
Plus, they always make things a little easier for me to keep everyone organized and on track.
Healthy Habits for Kids
1.) Good Handwashing
In this day and age, it’s no surprise that handwashing is at the top of the list. With a global pandemic still running around and everyone wearing masks, handwashing is super important for kids.
Your kids need to be washing their hands:
- After they use the bathroom
- Before and after meals
- After coughing or blowing their nose
- After playing with animals
Kidshealth.org has a great handwashing article and video for kids. I find it helpful to periodically review it with my kids to remind them of how to do it properly.
Kids easily get in a hurry and can revert to old habits of rushing through if they aren’t reminded on occasion of how to do it right.
2.) Brush Their Teeth Twice a Day
Next on the list of good habits for kids is to brush their teeth morning and night. Dental hygiene is very important for kids.
They start getting their adult teeth as early as 5 and 6 and those teeth need to last them their entire lives. The sooner they learn to take good care of them the better.
This is also one of those things that can have a big impact on their interactions with their peers. If they’re the kid who has yellow teeth or bad breath, they could possibly get teased or picked on by others.
Some kids take a while to become aware of how their own personal hygiene affects others. As moms, we can help with that by instilling these habits early on.
3.) Bathe Every Day
This might seem silly to put on the list, but you would be surprised at how often kids will skip out on bathing if you let them. Especially as they get older and they start to manage their own hygiene efforts.
Bathing helps to keep everyone fresh and clean. A bath also helps to clean any areas that kids might miss as they start to handle some of their other hygiene habits.
Things like handwashing and wiping while potty training.
We eventually need them to learn to do it independently, but it’s nice to know that a bath each day helps clean any areas that got missed.
As our kids get older, they need those baths to help keep clean all those areas that are developing as puberty hits too. This is also the time when being the kid that smells can have a big impact on their social interactions.
4.) Wash Their Face and Comb Their Hair
The next healthy habit for kids is to wash their face and comb their hair every day. This is just one of those simple tasks that helps present a neat appearance.
Especially if your kids bathe at night, this can help to clean everything up and have them ready to leave the house in the morning.
As your child gets older and puberty kicks in, washing their face can make a big difference in helping with things like acne and breakouts.
5.) Exercise Daily
The next healthy habit we need to teach our kids is to exercise regularly. Exercise is so important for their growing bodies.
- Improve their overall health
- Increase concentration
- Improve their performance at school
- Encourage healthy growth and development
- Improve confidence and self-esteem
- Sleep better at night
These are all things that are important for the health and well-being of our children. With more time spent in school, on screens, and on electronic devices, as parents, we have to put a little more effort into ensuring our kids get opportunities to be active every day.
Some good ways to encourage your kids to be more active is to:
- Enroll them in sports
- Have regular playdates
- Take them to the park
- Go for family walks
- Start a family sport
- Encourage them to play physically active games
6.) Eat a Healthy Diet
The next healthy habit for kids we need to be teaching is to eat a good variety of healthy foods. A healthy diet makes sure our kids get the nutrition they need for their bodies to grow and develop properly.
According to familydoctor.org, a healthy diet helps with academic performance, mood, energy levels, and helps prevent a lot of health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
As an adult who has had to work hard to develop healthy eating habits, I can definitely tell you it’s a lot easier to learn when you’re younger. The earlier we can instill this in our children, the more successful they will be at maintaining it into adulthood.
If you have been parenting for more than a minute, however, you know that getting your kids to eat anything besides peanut butter and jelly and chicken nuggets can be a struggle. I won’t pretend to be an expert on this (my youngest still treats pb&j’s like a food group), but here are a few things that have worked with my older kids:
- Introduce a large variety of foods when they’re young.
- Keep offering foods even if they don’t like them at first. Sometimes it can take a while for their taste buds to get used to new foods.
- Model good eating habits.
- Eat family-style.
- Make meal-time enjoyable.
7.) Get Enough Sleep Each Night
Another good habit to be teaching our kids is how to get enough sleep at night. Rest is so important for our children’s bodies and brains to grow and develop.
They need a good night’s sleep to do well in school and perform at their best. And this is absolutely a skill that we can help them learn.
Healthychildren.org has these recommendations for how much sleep kids need each night:
- 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours a night
- 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours a night
- 12-18 years old: 8-10 hours a night
The best way to help your child with this is to help them learn good bedtime habits and to focus on a good bedtime routine.
8.) Drink More Water
Another good healthy habit for kids is to encourage them to drink more water. Most children often reach for a cup of juice or soda when given a choice, but water is a much better option.
Water is a much better choice for their developing bodies to help keep them hydrated.
Tips for encouraging your kids to drink more water:
- Model the behavior: Make sure your kids see you drinking water regularly too.
- Make it easy to drink: Make sure your kids can easily get water by themselves whenever they’re thirsty. Keep a full cup or water bottle on the counter throughout the day.
- Offer water at mealtimes: Instead of giving them a cup of juice or soda when they sit down to eat, have a cup of water on the table.
- Make it fun: Try getting fun water bottles, use silly straws, or special cups.
- Take it on the go: Fill up water bottles and take them with you as you go out and about. My kids always know we have water on hand, so they never think to ask for juice or sodas when we’re out of the house.
Habits to Teach Responsibility
9.) Pick Up After Themselves
If you have ever stepped on a toy while walking through the house late at night, you definitely appreciate why this habit is so important. Children need to learn, the younger the better, the importance of picking up after themselves.
Not only is cleaning up important just for keeping a house maintained and helping keep everyone inside healthy, but it sure makes that person a lot easier to live with!
We owe it to ourselves (and our children’s future spouses) to help teach them how to pick up after themselves. I have found chore charts and having a regular cleaning routine helps to keep my children cleaning without all the fuss and drama.
When it’s something they do almost every day, it becomes a lot less of a struggle because they are used to doing it. Plus, the mess is usually smaller, so it doesn’t take as long to clean.
- 15 Quick Tips & Activities for Teaching Independence in Preschoolers
- 9 Benefits of Using Chore Charts
- Free Printable Chore Chart for Toddlers – Start Teaching Responsibility!
10.) Personal Responsibility
One of the habits I think is super important to teach our kids these days is personal responsibility. This means taking ownership for their thoughts and actions and whatever consequences occur from them.
This could be as simple as owning up to being the one who knocked over and broke the special picture frame in the living room. Or a little more complicated, like apologizing for not sticking up for a friend who was being picked on.
It’s important for our kids to learn to take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming them on other things or people around them. When children own up to their actions, good and bad, it helps teach them valuable lessons for the future.
How many times have we seen people struggle to make changes in their lives because someone is always “coming to the rescue.” By teaching our kids personal responsibility, we will help them develop the skills they need to be successful with their peers and as adults.
11.) Daily Chores
Next on the list of good habits for kids is daily chores. Children need to do some sort of chore each day that helps contribute to the family household.
I’m not saying kids need to earn their keep, but it is important for kids to learn a good work ethic and a sense of community.
Chore helps kids learn:
- To work hard
- The value of keeping a clean home
- Teamwork and how to contribute to a community
- Independence and self-reliance
- Life skills
Habits That Teach Good Morals
12.) Be Kind to Others
Beyond teaching our kids basic hygiene habits, I think this is one of the most important things we need to teach our kids. They need to know how to be kind to others.
This includes things like sharing toys, being a good sport when you lose, or just considering the feelings of others in what we say and do.
Children have a huge capacity to be kind when they are young and it’s important that we, as parents, nurture that. We need to teach them how to be empathetic and think of how others are feeling.
We can model being kind to others as parents, as well as talk about and encourage that behavior in our kids. Here are some examples you could practice with your child:
- Help them understand how someone who is being left out feels and how they could work to include them.
- Help them to understand the perspective of someone less fortunate than them.
- Encourage volunteering.
- Talk about bullying, the effect it has on others, and how to stand up to it.
- Practice random acts of kindness.
- When they do or say something unkind, talk with them about how they are making someone else feel, and encourage them to think about how that would make them feel if it was done to them.
Kindness is definitely something that takes time to learn, but with regular practice children can easily grasp this habit even when they are young.
13.) Be Polite to Others
This good habit for kids is definitely high on my list of things that children need to know how to do. Children (and adults for that matter) need to know how to be polite.
I didn’t grow up in a household where we used Sir or Ma’am, but you better believe, if an adult talked to me, I responded with a polite tone of voice. This included teachers, doctors, co-workers of my parents, you name it.
I also think this is something important that kids should be practicing with other kids. With children interacting online so much, it’s becoming easier and easier for the skill of being polite to get lost.
They don’t have as much face-to-face interaction as we did growing up, so they aren’t required to deal with the consequences of being rude to someone’s face.
This can be a real disservice when our kids need to go out into the rest of the world and they don’t have the skills necessary to interact well with others.
14.) Respect for Others
Another good habit for kids is to learn to be respectful of others. This includes things like saying please and thank you, not talking back, and being kind.
Part of being respectful is having respect for how others feel and things that might affect them. We also want to encourage our children to be respectful of all the people in their lives.
This includes you as the parents, other adults, peers, siblings, and friends. A good outlook to take is following the “golden rule.”
Encourage your children to treat others the way they want to be treated.
Simple ways children can practice being respectful of others:
- Say “please” and “thank you.”
- Don’t talk back to adults.
- Don’t take more than their share.
- Make eye contact when someone is talking to them.
- Pay attention when someone is talking to them.
- Don’t talk over others.
- Demonstrate respect for property
Another good habit for kids that teaches good behavior is to have patience. This can be a tricky one to teach, especially when children are young, but it’s worth the effort.
As adults, we understand that things happen and plans change, but children often struggle with the concept of time, so learning to wait can be challenging.
This skill is something that parents can teach by modeling and having open conversations about waiting. Whenever you are out in public or at home, talk with your children about waiting in line and using their patience while others take turns.
You can practice waiting in line, waiting patiently at places like restaurants, having good listening skills, not interrupting others when they are speaking, etc.
Just make sure you’re consistent and reliable with the follow-through on those experiences. If they’re waiting patiently for their turn in line, make sure they get their turn.
If they’re waiting for their turn to talk, make sure they get the chance to talk. When they get a reliable reward for their patience, it reinforces the behavior.
This is another good habit for kids you can start with when they are young, but can be practiced throughout their lives.
Teaching gratitude and appreciation encourages children to keep a positive attitude and be optimistic about the future. Being grateful means recognizing and acknowledging what we’re fortunate to have in our lives.
And while it’s easy to be aware of what’s going wrong in the world, when we take time to focus on what’s truly important – things like family, friends, and health – it can become a lot easier to find reasons to appreciate our lives, which makes us happier.
Being thankful helps children feel good about themselves and others and is a big part of having good relationships.
Simple ways children can practice gratitude:
- Show that you’re thankful for what they have.
- Keep a gratitude journal, writing down things they are grateful for each day.
- Write thank you notes to people who do nice things for them or help them out with something.
- Be aware of what others have to be thankful for, too.
Another good habit for kids to learn is how to be honest. This has been a big one in our house lately with my son.
It’s natural for every child to go through a phase where they try out lying. Either they’re trying to get their way in certain situations or something that they want.
(For example, my son will always claim he hasn’t had juice yet when asked because he knows he’s only allowed 1 cup a day. 🙄)
It’s crucial as parents that we encourage and reinforce how important it is for children to tell the truth. Being honest is important for kids because it means they are being fair to others.
Telling the truth also builds self-respect, pride, and protects them from being excluded or getting into trouble for things that aren’t their fault. It’s also an important part of building relationships with others.
Teaching your children about honesty all starts with having open communication between you and your kids. You can start by going over how lying makes others feel. And how hard it is to trust someone who doesn’t tell them the truth.
Stories like the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” help show the impact lying can have in serious situations. I’ve found that showing lots of appreciation and praise for times that my son is being honest and having realistic consequences for the times he’s lied has helped him see the value in being honest with us.
18.) A Love of Reading
Last on the list of good habits for kids is to teach your child to have a love of reading. As an avid reader myself, I think this is an important skill for children to have.
Children get so many benefits from reading. It helps them develop a strong imagination, encourages their creativity and confidence, increases their vocabulary, builds brain power, helps them to learn new things, and helps them get more comfortable with words in general.
And it’s a wonderful way for families to bond together.
But when it comes down to it – kids who read more have higher grades in school! And we all know this can go a long way to helping them become successful adults.
Tips for teaching your child to have a love of reading:
- Model a love of reading.
- Read with your child daily.
- Encourage kids to read by giving them access to a wide variety of books at their reading level.
- Let kids choose from a book display or bookshelf what they’d like to read next.
- Discuss the story as you read together, even drawing pictures and acting out parts if they’d like.
- Ask them open-ended questions about what they are reading to encourage their participation.
Good Habits for Kids Chart
One of my favorite ways to teach good habits for kids is using chore charts. These work for all of my kids from the pre-teen to the toddler.
With my older daughter, I simply use it as a checklist so she knows what’s expected of her throughout the day and I don’t have to remind her 50,000 times.
With my younger two, I use stickers when they complete a task off the chart. It works as a reminder and a form of positive reinforcement.
They know what’s expected of them and they get that little bit of a reward every time they do something right.
Here are some of my favorite chore charts for kids:
Customize with your own chore list and choose your color and theme.
Use the list of chores provided or fill in your own.
Customize with your own chore list and choose between blue or purple colors.
Customize with your own chore list and choose between blue or pink.
Keep all the kids organized in one place.
Perfect for older kids who need help staying organized and on track.
Conclusion to 18 Good Habits for Kids
It is so important to teach our children good habits, and these are some of the best ones to start with. These habits will help them in life in many ways, from being polite and respectful, to having a strong work ethic.
If you’re looking for an easy way to help teach these good habits for kids, grab one of these customizable chore charts! You can personalize them to whichever habits you’re working on.
Do you have any must-teach good habits for kids? Share them in the comments below or email me at email@example.com.
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Candice is a mom of 3 who has been homeschooling since 2013. She has an A.A.S. in Early Childhood Studies and cares deeply about helping other parents get the information and resources they need to help them homeschool their children with confidence.