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If you see your toddler standing with her arm on her hip, raising an eyebrow and cocking her head when she is listening to you, chances are you’re seeing a miniature version of yourself.
If she glares at you and raises her voice when she defends herself, look no further than a mirror.
When she has a smile of utter joy and uninhibited surprise, that’s from you, right there!
If she comes close to your face, rubs her nose against your cheek and nibbles on your ear, you can chalk that up to yourself too 🙂
Children are sponges as well as reflectors. What they see and soak up, without your realisation, is probably far more important than what we can ever teach them by instruction.
Learning through observation is also a preferred method used by many educators, just like learning through fun.
As parents, we are the child’s first teachers. Every word that passes our lips has to be weighed. Every gesture has to be carefully executed. Their eyes are on us, noting every move, recording every word. And God help you if you have a kid with a photographic memory!
I know, it’s not practically possible to watch your step every single minute of the day. A frustrated afternoon standing at the impossibly long line at the supermarket can make you fidgety and irritable. Chances are you’re going to hear some choice words emerge from your mouth, before you can stop the flow.
But, what about the times we can control it? By all means, make the concerted effort. Putting someone else down isn’t nice. We learnt that growing up, but we so readily lapse into bad behaviour, without even batting an eyelid.
Say we have this cabbie who dropped you and your kids off at your destination, asked for an extra tip and received an earful of curses instead. How would you think your child will treat any cabbie in the future? Ah, yes, with disdain and contempt.
Say we are stuck at the bank , waiting our turn and a woman barges in front of us? When we openly heckle her and sneer at her ‘obvious’ lack of manners, what are we teaching our children? That it’s okay to point fingers and be mean, when we are wronged.
Say you are stuck for an hour in traffic and can’t stand to sweat for a second longer and you let loose your anger on the sun and the snarling cars and the helpless traffic cop at the intersection? What does a child see? That it’s fine to lose your temper and take it out on people around you.
But, the best part? That’s when your child turns to you, after a tantrum, and says, ‘ I saw you do the same thing that day, after that bike rider hit your car.’
When it’s not fine for our kids to act out, let’s remember, it’s definitely not okay for us to do it, either.
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