of Kings River & Eagle Springs

Getting a Preschool Child to Let Go of a Habit

Posted on 05-01-2017

It’s out with the old and in with the new. As your preschooler learns new things, they pick up on a multitude of habits, both good and bad. Breaking bad habits is usually easier said than done, which is why we’ve compiled a handful of tips to guide your preschooler toward success.

Thumb sucking and nail biting

These negative habits are commonly triggered by feelings of anxiety and nervousness. If you notice your child actively doing one of these self-soothing habits, don’t nag them about it—this may only heighten their stress. Instead, agree on a symbolic gesture or code word as a gentle reminder to use when you notice your little one is negatively self-soothing.


Your little one may have developed the habit of throwing tantrums when they’re tired, hungry, or simply don’t get their way. Young children sometimes have difficulty expressing their feelings of anger or frustration because they just don’t know how. When your preschooler is having an off day and their only means of communication is through whining, calmly and gently tell them that you cannot understand what they’re saying when they whine, and that you need them to speak to you in their “big kid voice.”

Telling tall tales

Kids have wonderful, creative imaginations, but this can occasionally lead to telling tall tales and white lies. Your preschooler is still learning to differentiate between right and wrong, and when they make a mistake, they sometimes find it easier to tell a white lie. If your child is telling lies, don’t over-punish them. Find out why they chose not to tell the truth. If they were afraid of getting in trouble, explain to them the difference between right and wrong, and that it is important to be honest. When they are honest, praise them for telling the truth.

It is completely okay if it takes time for your child to break their bad habits. It has even been said that it takes a minimum of three weeks to break a habit, but with patience and perseverance, you and your preschooler can overcome any challenge. 

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