Don’t look now – someone is watching you!
There’s no such thing as the “perfect parent” because being a parent is the world’s most difficult job. You may appreciate the special joys of raising a child, but you also know that it can be demanding, challenging and exhausting—and there’s no time off.
Some days you do a great job as a parent. Other days you would rather not think about. But every day you act as a model— for your children.
It is a scary thought, but from infancy, your children are watching you. The see almost everything you do and constantly learn from your actions and conversations and absorb your attitudes and expressions. By the time they start school, they have probably learned far more than you realize or have intended.
Is it something you should worry about?
It depends. Your child will eventually become a teenager and have to make grown-up choices. If you control your temper, treat others with consideration and show restraint with use of alcohol, drugs, gambling and tobacco, your child will be more likely to copy your behaviour.
As a parent, are you the only role model for your child?
No. Grandparents, extended family, babysitters, friends, teachers, coaches and neighbours are all examples. In fact, the more caring, responsible adults there are in a child’s life, the better. Anyone can be a role model, but parents or main caregivers are still the major influences in a child’s life.
How can I do this?
Think about how your behaviour may affect your child. This doesn’t mean you always have to be calm and cheerful because children need to see their parents express real feelings in a healthy way. It is when they see you expressing those emotions with a fist or yelling that they learn to think that is how they are supposed to deal with that. If they see you handling difficult times in a calm way without violence, alcohol, drugs, gambling or tobacco, they’ll remember that and be more likely to follow that example.
What if I make mistakes I don’t want my child to copy?
When there are problems in the family, even very young children can be affected. Children often believe they caused the problems and that conflicts arise because of something they have done wrong. You can help by talking to your child. Even a very young child understands a very sincere apology. It is possible to be honest with your child and still not burden then with adult problems. The important thing is to acknowledge a mistake and to really emphasize that you love your child and that they did not cause the current problems.
The important thing is to talk to your child, be open about mistakes and talk to them about people you looked up to and learned from when you were their age.
It’s not easy being a model for another human being. But since modelling is a big part of every parent’s and caregiver’s role, it’s probably a good thing to keep in mind. Somebody’s watching you!
Check out this powerful video on the impact our actions and beliefs have on children: