Sometimes without even realising it, we fall into a routine or habit that is either difficult to maintain or simply not good for us. When it comes to our children, habits and expectations can be set very quickly and can be tricky to change. For example if you buy an ice-cream for your son after their swimming lesson a couple of weeks in a row, he may come to expect it every week.
With the holidays, comes a break from the everyday routine, a change of environment, and often a change in attitude. Fortunately, school holidays provide the perfect environment to make changes to the way you do things with your son.
Here are three reasons why holidays can be the best time to break bad habits.
1. There is a clean slate
Gretchen Rubin, author of the book Better than Before, states that the best time to form a new habit is when the “slate has been wiped clean.” Starting fresh in a new stage of life, environment or experience can increase your self-awareness allowing you to focus more on your actions. It also serves to distract your son, so that undesirable habits are more easily dropped. With less stress, a change in daily routine, more time and less distractions, the holidays provide for a fresh start away from the school term routine, allowing you to more easily drop unwanted habits and start new, preferable ones.
2. There is plenty of time for change
Researchers from University College London conducted a study in 2009 of 96 people over the course of 12 weeks, and they found out that the average time for a new habit to stick is 66 days. However, the level of motivation varied between individuals so some people can form habits in as little as 18 days! The longer you engage in a bad habit, the longer it could take to break. You may need to take a gradual approach which holidays provide time for. For example if you’re trying to prevent your son using his iPad on weekdays, reduce the time he spends on it gradually, or distract him with other activities.
3. Holidays alter the usual dynamic
Humans are naturally wired to routines. Our brains receive cues that enable particular actions and emotions that lead to a reward, healthy or otherwise. According to Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit, holidays can help in behavioural shifts because the usual dynamic is altered and cues occur less often. He states that holidays “provide an opportunity to form a new cue-routine-reward pattern.” As the cues change and patterns are broken, new patterns can be formed.
While it is important that your son does not completely lose touch with all routines or good habits during the school holidays, the holiday break is a great time to take stock of any behaviours and habits you’d like to change and provides the perfect opportunity to implement new ones.
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