Oct 6, 2015

2 lessons I learnt on behavior change

Last night, I had prepared white rice for my 4 year old and broken wheat for myself for dinner. The accompaniments were rasam and carrot curry. D had little rice and was curious to know what's inside the pressure cooker. She has a fascination of pressure cookers just like me :-) I said "that's broken wheat for amma". She said she wanted to taste it and so I offered her a spoonful of it. She loved it and then finished almost the entire cup with rasam and curd. After finishing her dinner, she said, "mumma, this is yummy. Tomorrow, I want buckwheat". Don't be surprised yet.

During the weekend, I had prepared ragi idlis and regular rice idlis for breakfast. While I was feeding her ragi idlis, she asked "mumma, are these kambu idlis?". (Kambu means pearl millet / bajra)

This is the effect of our reading ritual. Every night before going to bed, we go through pictures in the book "aaraam thinai" and that's how she knows the names of other grains.

My in-laws were visiting me last week and I had offered them a choice of ragi idlis and regular idlis. Without a second thought, they replied, "we are fine with regular idlis". The fact they are both diabetic and have hypertension didn't motivate them to choose the healthier option. Given that they are used to eating rice idlis for so many years, they are scared to do the switch at this age. They didn't even want to try a piece while my 4 year old was happily eating her ragi idlis. It's a different story that they got hungry soon and were munching on bread toast with diabetic jam (sugar-free jam).

On reflecting upon these incidents, I learnt a few lessons on behavior creation and behavior change. Nothing earth shattering here, but plain old common-sense.

1) It's much easier to create a new behavior in children. Whether you want them to eat healthy, be responsible towards nature, care for others etc, start as early as you can. On a related note, children like to emulate what their parents do. So if you exhibit positive qualities in front of them, they will reflect the same.  My motivation to eat healthy and remain fitter has become stronger now, as I see how my daughter is trying to follow me.
2) It's a tougher ask to change deep-rooted behavior. Even if there is a genuine reason to change a not-so-good behavior, the resistance is high and people prefer status-quo. As the years pass by, the beliefs get so strong that even if there is a scientific proof about a belief being wrong, people do not want to change them. For instance, a strong belief that's no longer true => Cow's milk being the "only healthy" food for a child for getting calcium and protein.

If there are certain behaviors in yourself that you want to change, start NOW. Don't wait for the right moment / right time / right place / right situation. As time passes by, the resistance to change will be so high that you wouldn't want to take even a small step towards it.

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