Mirror, Mirror . . .
As a parent, you likely find every single development in your child fascinating. During your child’s first five years the changes are dramatic. While every baby has his own personality, it’s not until your child is walking and (maybe) talking that you start to notice certain patterns in his behavior that might trouble you. Luckily (and unfortunately) you might not need to look further than a mirror to find the root of troubling habits.
You, the parent, are your child’s first role model. Yet, most parents are surprised to learn that their child’s habits might reflect their own, non-stellar habits. It’s never enough, at any age, to tell your child “Do as I say, not as I do.” What you do carries the stronger message every time.
If your little person sees you shushing your spouse or others he’s going to think it’s okay for him to do the same. If your child constantly hears you talk about healthy food choices while you munch on chips, it’s going to be harder to get convince him that carrots are equally delicious. On the other hand, if you are modeling the behaviors you want your child to adopt, he’s far more likely to take you seriously and follow your example.
- Speak to your child as you want him to speak to others. Use please, thank you and excuse me regularly and your child will use them automatically.
- Check your driving habits. If you frequently shout at other drivers or mutter under your breath about “stupid” drivers, don’t be surprised to find your child mimicking this behavior in various parts of their life.
- If you have habits you’re trying to change – let your child know that you’re trying and it’s hard. It’s important for them to learn that even adults have to work hard to be better people.
No one’s perfect! Not you. Not your child. But, being aware of your own habits will help you model the behavior you expect from your child.
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Barb, LMHC, CPC, Ed.M, CAS