“ Do as I say, not as I do”. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life was that simple? Unfortunately, that old adage is just not an effective parenting strategy. In reality, children are more likely to follow your example than your advice.
Young children learn by watching & copying key adults in their lives. This is most obvious during the toddler & preschool years when children unselfconsciously study others, then imitate them. This practice continues throughout childhood, although older children are more covert about it. For better or worse, our children are constantly watching us and gathering information about how to interact with the world.
While some of what we teach our children is planned and deliberate, like teaching your child to look someone in the eye when they are speaking to them or to hold the door for others, a great deal of learning takes place incidentally by observing our everyday interactions with others. Every time you say something, take an action or react to someone or something, your child is learning from your example. They watch how we handle stress, speak to others, manage emotions and deal with challenges.
W.E.B. DuBois said it best, “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”
So, be cognizant of your words and actions because, intentional or not, we are always teaching our children something.
If we expect our children to take responsibility for their decisions and apologize for their mistakes, to be kind, loving, honest & respectful, we must be those things too.