Annoying Habits that Might Have a Purpose

obsessive handwashing

Anyone who has or works with kids knows that they can do some pretty annoying things—in fact, most parents state that their children have at least one annoying habit that they would love to make disappear. But before you start digging out the reinforcements, you may want to consider the purpose of these annoying habits! That’s right, some of the most annoying things that your children do actually do serve a purpose—and those purposes might surprise you.

Putting things in their mouths. From thumbs, to fingernails, to pencils, some kids just love to put something in their mouth whenever they get the chance. For parents, this is not only annoying, but may trigger concerns about germs. The surprising finding? Kids who engaged in nail-biting or thumb sucking in childhood are less likely to have allergies by the time they reach their 30s, making this a potential immune booster.

Keeping a messy room, desk, locker, or other space. Do you feel like you are constantly begging for clean? Is it a battle to clear a walkway? If so, you may think your child is doomed to a life of disorganization . While this may or may not end up being true, recent research has found that messy people are often more goal-oriented—the effort that some would spend keeping a tidy space gets redirected into seeking order and goal achievement elsewhere. Turns out, your kid was right when he said “but mom, I have good grades even though my room is messy!”

Um… like… uh… If you have teens, you probably recognize these terms, otherwise known as “filler words.” Little sounds that fill in during a conversation are quite popular amongst teens, and can make even the most patient of listeners cringe. We have all been taught not to use these terms in presentations, but recent research actually shows that listeners understand and remember a speech better when there are a few filler words included, and that people who are highly conscientious often use these words in their conversations.

Chewing gum. Parents might remember the days when gum in school was linked with sticking on their noses—others just remember the “smack, smack, POP” noise that their children make  while chewing gum. But before you lose your cool à la the musical Chicago, consider this: kids who chew gum are more likely to feel awake and alert, which can help to support Littleton ADHD counseling. Some studies show that those who chew gum report a better mood and reduced stress hormones.

Do your kids have any of these annoying habits? By considering them from an adaptive, purpose-serving framework, you may just find yourself being a little more understanding… or at least resisting the urge to rip your hair out! Of course, any habit, big or small, that causes distress or poor functioning at school, at home, or with friends should be brought up with a trained child behavior psychologist in Littleton. Otherwise, try to see the silver lining—and don’t forget, adults have annoying habits, too!

If your child is showing a destructive or problematic behavior that goes beyond “annoying,” contact Dr. Steve Lazarus today to find out how to live a happier, healthier life!