Dr. Rich Patterson


Bad Habits that Hurt Kids

As an educator, I have to admit that sometimes I spent with parents didn’t make sense.  I might have a student in my office for fighting or something as severe, and when the parent comes to school upon my request, they support their child fighting.  Or a student who was smoking on campus, and then I discover the parent smokes and allows them to smoke at home.

As adults, when we have kids to raise, the standards for our behavior just get much higher.  We have to set the example about everything, smoking, drinking, driving, frustrations, rude people, the list goes on and on.  When we display our bad habits, then, in effect, we’re saying to our kids, it’s OK if you do the same.  I know we don’t mean that, nor would we come out and say that, but our behavior significantly affects kids.

Let’s say you’re in a situation at a store where someone is vulgar to you.  Maybe they display prejudice against you or are just really short and dismissive of you.  You have your kids with you, and they watch all of this.  So, you have a choice; you can act rude back to them.  After all, you can justify it by their treatment of you, or you can dig deeper into your character and be nice back to them even though you’re experiencing otherwise.

What bad habits do you have as a parent that display an OK sign to your kids?  Consider changing them, or better yet, backtrack a bit with them in conversation and own your mistakes—an exchange such as, “Hey, John.  I want to own something that you witnessed of which I am not proud.  When that clerk was rude to me and treated me with a lack of respect, I lost it.  But that isn’t the way to behave.  I want you to know that just because you experience something negative from someone else, you still have a choice as to how you behave.

The next time we’re in a situation like that, I would like to demonstrate a higher level of behavior for you.”  That will go a long way to helping our kids be their best.  To help them live with a more profound sense of tolerance and character than even we have.

After all, that is our goal.  That our kids do better than we have done?  It’s never too late to make the change, even if your kids are grown, and you’ve made a lot of mistakes.  Call them up and down a few things; you’ll be surprised at where the conversation goes.

Along with understanding, this concept comes to the next step Positive Supports; click here to read this important post, What Kids Need: Positive Supports Everywhere – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Psychology Today has an article on How to Break Bad Habits that is very effective, How to Break Bad Habits | Psychology Today

I’m interested in your thoughts below.

Yours for Better Parenting,