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It’s true what they say. How your children act and behave is  a direct consequence of their watching you.

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.


Linking up with Yeahwrite Moonshine Grid

Categories: Parenting

Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Aparna · January 3, 2014 at 8:37 am

Well said Shailaja :). This is both enlightening and scary ;)!

Shailaja V · January 3, 2014 at 8:50 am

Thanks Aparna 🙂 Hope you got the reference we discussed this morning 🙂

Me! In words · January 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm

I totally agree with you… many of my shortcomings have been pointed out to me by the little one and it has made me more conscious of the way of deal with situations and everyday matters.

Shailaja V · January 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Yes! I literally think thrice before saying anything now. And I hope that's going to make a difference.

Natalie DeYoung · January 4, 2014 at 6:38 pm

This is why I'm afraid to have kids – I wouldn't want them imitating me at all!

Stephanie Scott · January 4, 2014 at 10:09 pm

So true! I have GOT to be more aware of my chatter in the car.

Stacie · January 5, 2014 at 12:26 am

Since I only have boys, I have trouble seeing them as mini-mes. But I do try to teach them to be kind to others.

shadowsofthedivine · January 5, 2014 at 5:01 pm

That was true, all of that. Amazing post and a very useful one for good parenting. When I was young I remember I used to copy my mother….I tried her lipsticks on and used to speak like she does. My dad used to call me a copy cat sometimes 🙂 Such a cute memory. LOVED this post from you. Hugs xx

cynk · January 6, 2014 at 1:52 am

Philip does not always imitate-it's part of his autism. But I never know when he will see and copy me, so I have to be mindful that I'm modeling behaviors that I want him to imitate.
I admire that you are willing to admit that you haven't always served as the perfect role model. Just remember that no one is perfect and keep striving to set the best example you can.

Shailaja V · January 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

But that's the thing, isn't it? It's not just our kids; everyone's watching us.

Obsessivemom · January 8, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Tell me about this!! How often have I seen the kids imitate me and felt terribly ashamed of my behaviour. It's hard to live up to what you want them to be.

tulika singh · September 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I've been here and I remember how conscious I became after this post from you Shailaja. Good to be reminded once more though!

How the simple power of one word changed things around for this parent · December 19, 2017 at 10:27 pm

[…] asked me a question, ‘Give me a minute, while I finish my work here.’   We know that kids learn by observation. We acknowledge that we should lead by example. That’s when the decision took shape. What I […]

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