There is an awesome new talk on TED delivered by Judson Brewer about Habits, highlighting a simple and powerful means of breaking the Habit Cycle. It is titled "A simple way to break a bad habit".
Essentially the hack is to be mindful of the bad habit in all three stages of Trigger - Action - Result.
So .. for example if you compulsively get up off the couch in an ad break and head to the refrigerator to look for a snack; Judson's clinical findings are that if you are mindful at each step you have a good chance to help break that habit..
Just this act of thinking about each step of the habit cycle apparently has enormous benefit if you are trying to break a bad habit. initially, don't even try and stop yourself from doing whatever it is you want to stop - the power in this technique is to monitor your thoughts and feelings as you go through the motions of the habit.
I suspect this technique engages the conscious part of your brain and sends signals to the sub-conscious part that you are technically not happy about what it is making you do. By doing this repeatedly it may help to re-wire or short-circuit the auto response from the sub-conscious mind. I will investigate further on this for sure!
There is actually a great playlist of talks all about habits on TED. Check some of them out .. its fascinating stuff.
I will be putting together a complete article on Habits - what they are, how they affect our thinking and actions, how to break habits, how to form good habits.
Of course, there will be some simple but powerful hacks that we can apply to teach our kids.
In the meantime - how about we try this out.
Pick a bad habit and next time you catch yourself (hopefully at the trigger stage) you can think about how you feel as you are going through the process and acting out your habit. Do it every time you are in the grip of the habit and after a week or two see if you are closer to tricking your brain out of the habit.
Always on the lookout for the ultimate Kid Hacks