The 3L Reset: Taking 3 Minutes to Help Kids Build Stronger Habits | Deborah Farmer Kris | 4 Min Read

One morning last spring, my youngest child announced that he was going to ride a bike without training wheels. He hopped on with confidence, but after about 10 minutes of wobbles and falls, he threw the bike down in frustration. 

“It takes a while to learn how to ride,” I reminded him.

“But mom,” he replied. “I don’t want to learn how to ride a bike — I want to know how to ride a bike!”

I get it. I often want that magic wand myself — to bypass the stretch-zone of learning and move straight to mastery.  This is particularly true when it comes to building habits. For example, we know from research that gratitude, optimism, and mindfulness can help us navigate life’s challenges. But if I only try deep breathing when I’m in crisis mode, I’m going to fall off the bike. And how often do we expect our children to exhibit these traits without giving them concrete opportunities to practice them? 

I teach a weekly workshop to middle schoolers on how to build the social and emotional habits that help us thrive. This semester, I’m conducting a bit of an experiment with my students that has…

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Deborah Farmer Kris

A writer, teacher, parent, and child development expert, Deborah Farmer Kris writes regularly for PBS KIDS for Parents and NPR’s MindShift; her work has been featured several times in The Washington Post; and she is the author of the All the Time picture book series (coming out in 2022) focused on social-emotional growth. A popular speaker, Deborah has a B.A. in English, a B.S. in Education, and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology. Mostly, she loves finding and sharing nuggets of practical wisdom that can help kids and families thrive — including her own. You can follow her on Twitter @dfkris, contact her at [email protected], or visit her website: Parenthood365 (