While children are growing up and living with their parents, they are constantly observing every move their parents make. They observe so much that they want to be like their parents and that is who they learn the most from.
Children learn things that their parents try to teach them, like counting or how to use the bathroom. They also learn from just watching what their parents do and trying to copy them.
Therefore, sometimes children learn things that their parents are not even trying to teach them. Children learn good and bad behaviors by watching, listening, and imitating. Sometimes, parents accidentally do things in front of their children that they don’t want their children to do. This especially happens when parents are angry. Parents who yell at each other when they are angry teach their children to yell when they are angry with their parents. Parents who swear when they are frustrated teach their children to swear when frustrated. Parents who hit each other when they fight, teach their children to hit each other. It is very confusing for children to watch their parents behave in a certain way, such as swearing when frustrated, and then to be punished for swearing when they are frustrated.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID BEING A MODEL FOR BEHAVIOR YOU DON’T WANT YOUR CHILD TO LEARN?
- Most of children’s “bad” behavior is modeled when parents are angry
- If you deal with your anger with behaviors that you don’t want your child to do, do not let your child see those behaviors.
- Until you find other ways to deal with your feelings, leave the presence of your child when yelling, swearing, or hitting.
If you are angry with your child because of his or her misbehaviors, use the following steps:
- Recognize when you are becoming angry with your child, and leave the situation for 60 seconds.
- Remind yourself that you do not have to be angry to handle the problem. Your anger will actually make the situation harder to handle.
- Decide how you want to deal with the situation (For example, you might decide to take away playtime with friends for the next hour).
- Imagine yourself using the technique you chose in a calm manner.
- Return to your child and use the technique.
- Congratulate yourself for staying calm!
When you are angry with your child’s behavior, these are some helpful things to remember:
- You do not need to show anger to let your child know that you disapprove of her behavior — showing disappointment is enough.
- Your child’s misbehavior does not mean that you are a bad parent.
- Your child’s misbehavior does not mean that he doesn’t love you or respect you.
HOW CAN YOU USE MODELING TO TEACH YOUR CHILD GOOD BEHAVIORS?
Whenever your child is with you, remember that she will copy the things she sees you do and the things she hears you say.
If you use smiles and praises with your child, you are teaching him to use smiles and praises with you and with others. This helps your child get along better with his friends, his siblings, and with adults, like teachers and family members.
If you are unhappy with another adult or with your child, and you talk in a calm and rational manner, you are teaching your child to handle disagreements calmly and rationally. This helps your child get along better with others.
“American Psychological Association (APA).” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Feb. 2013, https://www.apa.org/. “Parents are Models”