We’ve all been there—getting sucked into parenting patterns that just don’t seem to work. (Cue yelling at your daughter to clean up her toys her OR ELSE, then stepping over said toys a mere 15 minutes later.)
The problem is that these (nonworking) patterns are habits, and “we perform habits based on past rewards, not the rewards we are getting right now,” says Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Southern California and author of Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick. Take “time out,” for instance. It may have worked for your oldest child, but not for your youngest, yet you keep doing it, even though she doesn’t see it as a punishment.
“This is the challenge of habits,” adds Wood. “Once we learn them, they pop into mind automatically, and we just keep acting on them, whether they are working for us right now, in the present, or not.”
The annoying part is that these parenting snafus could actually spill over to your kids’ naughty behaviors. Here, five all too common bad behaviors you’re actually encouraging in your kids…and how to break the cycle for good.