I have heard people teach that the best way to encourage your child to read is for them to see you reading. I have heard the same concept about eating healthy, and being eager to learn or try new things, or being active… The list goes on and on. Children are very in tune to our actions and especially when they are younger they are going to mimic our behavior. It is safe to say that actions truly do speak louder than words and the best way to lead is by example.
The way you demonstrate self control and self regulation to your children will determine what they give back to you.
OUCH! I have a hard time with this, especially when we are running late. Is it even humanly possible to be a positive example when we are running late?
As hard as it is, it is still an important reminder that no matter how much you try to train, teach, or bombard your child with these learning opportunities it isn’t going to amount to much unless it means something to you and you are living it out. One of my favorite quotes is from Naomi Wolf and it says
“A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.”
I hear so many mother’s say they don’t want their daughters to be insecure like they are. So they lavish their little girls with compliments and then turn around and talk about their own bodies in a way that is degrading. This method is INEFFECTIVE! You can’t just talk the talk honey, you have got to walk the walk.
My 2 year old is at the stage where he copies everything we say. EVERYTHING. It definitely makes us more aware of our words. My 4 year old, who is deaf, is more in tune to facial expressions so sometimes when I am trying to communicate with her it is like looking in a mirror. This video is from a while ago, and I know I look ridiculous, but it shows what I am talking about.
How comfortable are you with your children mirroring your actions? All of this just continues with one of the main themes of Teachable Parenting, which is that we set the tone in our home by the kind of environment we create. One of my favorite techniques that I read from Love and Logic is “I will respond when your voice sounds like mine”. This is an extremely helpful line to use with screaming or whining. Not only does it defuse the situation by giving them simple instructions, but it’s always a reminder for me that Oh yeah, I have to watch my voice too! If I bark at them and scream “I said I would respond when your voice sounds like miiiiine!!!” Then that would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it? So it keeps me in check and it also reminds me that I am an example to them. This is also why I have a hard time saying don’t hit followed by a little swat on the diaper. I’ve done it, but the message seems conflicting.
Again, this is why it is so important to discipline with empathy and respect because you are showing your child how they deserve to be treated and how they should be interacting with others (remember the idea that you teach them what their inner voice sounds like). Teachable Parenting is about bringing a culture of honor into the home. That doesn’t mean you are not in charge.
Modeling the ideal behavior is not going to happen over night, and we’ll never be perfect. For now I totally recommend trying that tip.
“I will be happy to respond when your voice sounds like mine.” It’s worth a try.
This post was originally written on October 13th, 2014 as a part of the 31 Day series Teachable Parenting.