3 steps to make parenting habits stick

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/7/2017

How are you at making good sports parenting habits that stick? Many are full of good intentions when they start a new season of sports. The hardest part about making resolutions or beginning good habits is making them stick.

James Clear, author of Transform Your Habits, says there is a framework that can make it easier for good habits to stick. He calls it the 3 R’s of Habit Change.

Clear suggests that every habit you–or your children–have follows a 3-step pattern:

Reminder: the trigger that initiates the behavior

Routine: the behavior itself, the action you take

Reward: the benefit you gain from the behavior

Let’s use your anger at your child’s coach as an example:

Reminder: you feel your blood pressure boil as you watch the game. This is a reminder or a trigger that initiates your behavior.

Routine: This is the behavior you choose in response to the reminder. In this instance, you have a choice. You can choose to take your anger out on the coach, this is bad behavior that leads to a bad habit. Or you can take a few deep breaths and let it go.

Reward to the good habit: your anger is abated and you are at peace. This is the reward for the behavior.

When you see how a habit works, you can understand how to form new habits. Clear suggests a 3-step process:

Step 1: Set a reminder for your new habit. If you want to work on the habit of staying calm during games, set an alert on your phone to go off during your child’s game, reminding you to calm down if you are agitated. Or maybe you decide to begin each game with a prayer or a positive thought about the bigger picture of why your child is playing sports and the benefits it can bring him. Set an alert to check your mindset before each game.

Step 2: Choose a habit that’s easy to start. We’re not talking life goals here, we’re talking about a bite-sized habit that is so easy that you really can’t say no to it. Maybe it’s only the habit of cheering for every player on the team, or the habit of thanking the coach after each game. These little habits become part of who you are as a positive sports parent.

Step 3: Celebrate. As Clear says, “Give yourself some credit and enjoy each success.” Tell yourself “good job” or say aloud “I did it!” When you follow through with a positive sports parenting habit, celebrate. Not only are you becoming a stronger person, you are helping your child to have a better season.

Establishing good habits is a process. Be patient with yourself. But be intentional. Good habits are worth it because they will shape you and your child’s destiny.

Janis B. Meredith is a sportsparenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.