“Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.” ~Unknown
I recall when my son was about three years old, we had traveled to visit a friend. When we arrived he proceeded to walk around her house saying, “Damn, damn, damn!” over and over. I was appalled as even this slightly offensive word was not one that we used! I couldn’t imagine where it came from. Later, I found that it was used one time in a favorite movie of his (kid friendly mind you). Of course, this is the word he chose to pick up on. Needless to say, this movie quickly found its way out of his life.
Fast forward 13 years and this story is hilarious to me! At the time I thought that I’d surely done a number on my child, letting him be introduced to such “language”- Haha! Oh, but there are far worse things that a kid can pick up, as parents learn in time. From bad habits, to personality flaws and so on, we are an open book that our children are reading daily. I do not agree that children should, “do as I say, not as I do” because it’s not realistic. Children will copy the behaviors that they see.
“One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be.” ~Carol B. Hillman
Modeling “good” behavior for kids is often easier said than done. In the toddler years I struggled, as I’m sure all parents can attest to, with yelling, fit throwing and just straight out melt downs, often all within an hour! Oh, and sometimes my kids would do these things too. 😉
So, in my nearly 16 years as a mom, here are some things I’ve learned to help mold my kids, without too much scarring, some of which I wish I’d learned much earlier on. I hope you find them useful or at least helpful.
- Learn to say sorry. We are still human and it is good for our children to know this. We will make mistakes, we do not know everything and we will mess up. It is a great lesson in teaching humility and forgiveness when we teach our kids how to say, “sorry” by saying it to them when we are wrong.
- Honesty is the best policy. This one may seem like a “no-brainer” but let me explain. There are times when parents keep feelings or just difficulties in general from their kids. Now, while I don’t think at certain ages children can comprehend everything, I do believe that they need to learn the reality of life. Sometimes there are struggles, people can be cruel and it’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows all the time. Modeling appropriate behavior in these times are perfect opportunities to teach them about emotions, personality or belief differences and how we should treat others.
- Think for yourself. As parents we sometimes fear when our children seem to suddenly have minds of their own. Some may even see it as “acting out.” And while I don’t believe that rebellion or disobedience is positive and should be nipped in the bud, I do think that we can look to steer this behavior in the right direction. As our kids grow we want them to learn to think for themselves, in a respectful manner. This is a strength that can be harnessed into strong leadership personalities. We do tend to desire our children to be mirror images of us. However, in reality, we should hope that we do our jobs so well they will learn to think for themselves. By showing them how to lead and then learning to trust them as they become mini-adults, this can be a great gift to our children and their future.
“I don’t want my children to follow in my footsteps…I want them to take the path next to me and go further than I could’ve ever dreamt possible.” ~Unknown