Let’s be honest. We all have behaviors that we’d like to change or encourage in ourselves as well as in our children (and probably our spouses, too!). Changing behavior is tough though. Just look at the number of New Year’s Resolutions that are dropped within a few weeks.
As parents, we do all we can to help develop our children’s moral character as well as their behaviors. The Fogg Method outlines three steps that can be used to change a behavior. The trick is to start small. Setting a goal for yourself to lose 30 pounds can be overwhelming, especially if you cheat the first week. But a goal of losing five pounds is much easier to achieve.
The Fogg Method was developed by Stanford doctor BJ Fogg. It includes just three simple steps that you can apply to your own goals and also with your children.
Get specific. Set a very specific goal rather than a large, long-term goal. Help your children set a specific goal for one week. Then encourage them and reinforce their success. For example, your child might have a goal to limit their school breaks to 15 minutes at a time.
Keep it simple. You’re more likely to follow through with a goal when it is easy. If you or your child are overwhelmed by the thought of doing what it takes to meet the goal, then you’re less likely to do it. Talk to your child and set goals together that are specific and that they believe they can easily do.
Trigger. You can’t make something a habit by just deciding to do so. Something has to prompt you to do it. Some triggers are natural...you get hungry so you eat. But some behavior changes require artificial triggers. Your child might need a prompt to set a timer for their break. This can come from the parent or perhaps by putting a timer on the child’s work space to set before they leave to start their break.
Then repeat the process. Let’s say your child is setting a goal to get their chores done every day so they can earn money for a Lego set. Start with setting the goal for just one week, list their chores, and prompt them to do them. The next week, you might eliminate the prompt or the list. The following week, you’d eliminate the other. By the 4th week, the child should be doing the chores on their own without any prompting or a list from you.