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Children learn so much from modeling their parents’ behaviour. Guest editor and parenting coach Priyanka Naidoo has some tips on how to be your children’s rock and model the best behaviour for your children.
Parenting is difficult and even more so now that we find ourselves in the middle of lockdown life. We are all trying to find our way around this “new normal, ” especially our children. Our kids are experiencing their own types of stress and anxiety, but the one constant source of comfort and certainty they have in their life is YOU.
You have a responsibility to your children; to be present, intentional, and to protect their innocence by positively handling stress, to safeguard your family’s wellbeing. We can start the process with three simple yet powerful tools that we have available to us:
Children, through every stage from toddler to teens, are always watching what we as parents do. They see how we handle stress. They watch how we treat other people and observe how we deal with feelings. They soak it all in like little sponges. Even when you think your children aren’t paying attention, they are always watching, so it’s essential to be aware of how to respond to situations.
We can agree that the primary role of a parent is to protect, provide, and help mould your child into kind, respectful, honest, resilient, responsible adults. More often than not, the easiest and most effective way to teach a child is to model the behaviour and the problem-solving skills that we want them to learn.
Parenting coach, author and children’s advocate LR Knost says: “Our children are watching how we live far more than they hear what we say, they are learning to live by our choices, not by our words.”I couldn’t agree more. How often have we, as adults, found ourselves reacting and emulating behaviour that has been modeled by our parents, teachers, or caregivers. This may mean taking a closer look at your habits and making some changes, which will benefit you and your child.
Always thinks of what you want your child to learn from you and try to model that in your life. Naturally, we will make mistakes, and that’s the beauty of life: that we get to try again every day. When our kids see us making mistakes and then solving them or showing them how to be resilient in a tough time, we are emulating behaviour that will shape the way they will address a mistake or a difficulty in their own lives.
When you do make a mistake and behave in a way, you shouldn’t in front of your child, take the opportunity to talk to your kids about where you slipped up and how you hope to be different next time. Children learn important lessons from you even when you make mistakes.
Your presence and love are the basis of what every child needs. Handling and processing emotions are difficult, and we always need space to explore different feelings, even as adults. Emotionally strong and resilient people and children can process and feel an emotion and then let go of the negative sentiment related to the feeling. Demonstrate how to manage emotions, like frustration or sadness, by talking about your feelings when you are upset, angry, or sad, and encouraging your child to do the same.
When you want to teach your children something new, whether it’s how to make their bed or how to tie their shoes, show them how you do it. Then, let them practice it on their own. Showing, rather than telling, can be the best way for kids to learn a variety of new skills. Paying attention to your child, praising their good behaviour and effort, makes their little hearts burst with happiness and accomplishment.
Here are some examples of other things that make your presence felt with your kids:
- Laughing at yourself
- Saying sorry
- Forgiveness for self and others
- Positive talk
- Expressing feelings with words
- Listening to feelings
- Addressing behaviour with concern, patience, and love
- Kindness to self
- The ability to move on from hurt or offense
- Addressing the behaviour, not punishing the person
Studies have shown that uninterrupted moments with your children for at least five two–minute intervals during the day will set the foundation for the importance of connection, conversation, and security. These moments will give children the ability to respect others as well as have a sense of self-respect. Have conversations with your kids about the importance of racial diversity, respect for differences, and caring for others. Talk to them about why it is important to protect our minds and our hearts. Talk to them about fun things too. Laugh and be engaged with your child – at different moments in the day.
We all know that parenting is no easy feat, but certainly the most rewarding and honourable role we will ever play. With awareness of your positive influence and behaviour, being emotionally present, and connecting with your little one, parents display and create a safe and nurturing environment for children to grow, love, and enjoy the most incredible years of their life.
Your children never want you to be upset, stressed, or uneasy and or be the contributor to your stress. Use moments to model behaviour that you would like your kids to aspire to, especially when life gets hard.
The aim is to strive for progress in our daily lives, never perfection.