Common Children’s Bad Habits and Behaviors

There are several children’s habits and behaviors that can annoy parents from time to time. In most cases, these bad behaviors and habits are not medical problems. Your baby will outgrow them quickly. However, they will need your guidance to overcome these bad habits. To change the unwanted behavior of your baby, you need to understand why they do it. Your kids can start doing bad habits if they are feeling stressed, bored, angry, insecure, or tired. Many of the bad habits are calming and soothing to them. So let’s guide you about the common children’s bad habits and how to deal with them.

Thumb and Finger Sucking

This is the most common behavior that you may find in your child. Children can do different types of sucking during their infancy and childhood. For children, the act of sucking has a soothing and calming effect. It will help them easier to fall asleep. You can see your baby suck their thumb or finger since they are just a few months old. Children will normally outgrow this behavior before their first birthday and most stop by the age of 5 due to peer pressure. However, sucking may become worrisome when their permanent teeth grow. You should keep an eye on your baby if they continue sucking things at this time as the sucking alters the shape of the child’s teeth, palate, or bite. Pacifiers and blankets may also be your baby sucking target. If your child uses a pacifier, it is better to let them use the pacifier than have them start sucking their thumb. But you should try to get rid of the pacifier before 4 years of age.


Head Banging, Head Rolling, and Body Rocking

Headbanging is when your baby repeatedly hit their head on a solid thing like their cribs crib. Surveys show that some kids may even hit their head 80 times a minute. This behavior can make you worry as you think your baby will get injuries. However, children often do not appear to be in pain when doing this. They rather are calm and content. You may find your baby starts banging their head around the age of 9 months and revolves around the age of 2. 

Head rolling is when your baby rolls their head from side to side when lying on their back. They may even rub their hair completely off the back of their head.

Sometimes you may find your baby rhythmically move their body while either sitting or resting on their knees or elbows. This is called body rocking. This behavior often appears when your baby reaches 6 months and goes away when they reach 2 years old. In most cases, your child will rock their body for 15 minutes or less. Similar to headbanging, body rocking often occurs when your baby listens to music or sleeps while listening to music or falling asleep.

All these three actions are common self-comforting behaviors for young children. They are normally harmless for your baby’s health, but they can be worrisome if your baby has developmental delays. You should inform your pediatrician about your baby behaviors. They can help you decide whether there is any cause for concern. 

Breath Holding

Breath holding may be the scariest kid’s behavior for parents. After some particular events like an upsetting, frightening, or painful experience, you may find your child stops breathing for a short time. Sometimes your baby even holds their breath to the point of losing consciousness. On top of that, some children even show seizure-appearing behavior when breath-holding.

The breath holding period may last from a few seconds to a minute. This bad habit usually happens around 24 months and stops by the age of 5. If your child does lose consciousness during one of these periods, stay calm and do not panic. There are no long-term effects from breath holding spells. It is also important to know that these periods are not voluntary. If you find your baby holding their breath, keep them calm, and protect them from injury.

How to handle breath holding tantrums in your toddler

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism or clenching, is a habit seen in over half of all infants of normal development. This habit usually starts when your baby is around the age of 6 months when the baby teeth come in. They can also appear again around the age of 5 when the permanent teeth come in. Teeth grinding happens mainly during sleep. Children usually outgrow it, but bruxism may continue into adulthood. It can be concerning when the permanent teeth grow as it can cause dental problems or a disorder of the jaw joint. In this case, you should let them pay a visit to the dentist for proper diagnoses and advice.

Nail and Cuticle Biting 

Nail biting or cuticle biting and picking is a concern if it results in recurrent bleeding or infection ò of their nail. Like other habits, yelling or raging at your child is not recommended. Instead, you should use positive reinforcement strategies to deal with them. It is the most effective way to stop the behavior. You can try to catch your child without their finger in their mouth, and simply describe what they are doing with their hands instead. In addition, making the nail taste bad is also a good choice. There are sour- tasting nail polishes that can help you. Some parents have success with just applying bandages to their children’s nails. You can put vinegar on the pad of the band-aid to make it taste bad.

Nose Picking

Nose picking is one of the least socially acceptable behaviors. However, it is one of the most common habits among children and even adults. Nose picking can start when booger occurs. They can be from infection, allergies, or minor trauma. Picking causes more irritation to the nose and may create a vicious cycle. In fact, picking is the main cause for frequent nosebleeds.

You should tell your child that picking their nose is not acceptable in public. Instead, guide them to use a tissue to clear out their nose and take care of itchiness. In addition, you should explain to them that picking their nose can pass the germ to others. Insist that they wash their hands after they pick or blow their nose. Using a little petroleum jelly a couple of times each day inside the nose will help to break the vicious cycle of nose irritation and picking. Keeping the nose moist with a little saline spray before bed can also help. It is recommended that you consult your doctor before trying anything to deal with your baby’s nose irritation.

Hair Twirling or Pulling

Hair twirling or pulling that results in minimal hair loss is just another self-calming behavior that normally occurs in children. Like thumb sucking, it can appear when your baby is relaxed, bored, or tired. Don’t worry, it won’t have bad effects on your baby. They will outgrow this habit on their own. However, there is a more serious form of hair pulling, called trichotillomania, which involves pulling the hair from the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and/or pubic areas. This is a rare disorder that often suggests an underlying psychological problem and should be evaluated by a physician.

There you go, now you have the most common bad habits/behaviors in children and how to deal with them. In general, you should not use aggressive ways to manage your child’s bad behavior. Being calm and understanding is the key to helping them. Do you have any questions? Please share them with us in the comments!