How many of you have had a toddler drop the F-bomb? Though both shocking and simultaneously hilarious (the first time), this is the epitome of a child modeling behavior. Think back to your actions at the time. Did you stifle a laugh or scold them? Did you instantly know where they would have heard it?
Children are sponges for information, and research has shown that mimicking, or observational learning, is quite powerful. We aren’t just talking about learning ABCs and 123s, as children pick up on less tangible traits as well such as ambition, motivation, and kindness. Here are 10 child behaviors to consciously model for your kids.
Research has found that reading for pleasure may be a more significant indicator of future success than socio-economics. Reading also deepens empathy, so don’t feel guilty when you pick up the latest detective novel or a trashy romance, as one of the best parenting tips is to show your children that reading is the perfect activity to make some time for yourself. Consider joining a book club or making a library visit for a monthly outing with your kids. Let them know that reading is fun and not just a task from school.
We have all had times when learning seemed futile, but there are ways to showcase a love for lifelong learning to alter child behavior. This can be taking a pottery course or an online cooking class. No matter the case, you can demonstrate to your children that learning never stops, and it can actually be tuned to your interests.
You can tell your child a million times to get their elbows off the table, but they will quickly call you out for your own poor manners the first time that you do it. Parenting tips usually note that telling a child to say “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome” will not reinforce the behavior as much as showing them that you practice what you preach. Go one step further and ensure that these manners extend to everyone you meet daily, particularly those in the service industry.
Brushing and flossing your teeth are actions that become much more fun when done as a group activity. Let your children be part of your hygiene ritual, even if it means getting them their own special bottle of face wash and lotion. If you have poor hygiene habits, it may be time to get on the right track before your children follow suit. This is a child behavior that will be very useful for them in their future for health reasons.
Even as adults, we are wrong sometimes, so it is integral to show children that honesty is essential. Rather than scolding a child caught in a lie, talk it out and find out why they acted the way they did. You can even set up small role-play scenarios and discuss the various outcomes of what they did, said, or hid from you.
A parenting tip you’ll never regret taking, make exercise an integral component of staying healthy and happy, and try to avoid linking exercise simply with weight loss. Instead, include enjoyable family outings into your daily events, such as walking the dog, going to the park, or trying a new trail. Consider swapping food-based rewards for visits to a trampoline park or ice skating.
How many of you have a child that has looked at you with a cheeky grin and said ‘sharing is caring when you have something they want? Kids are good at giving us back our own advice, but that just means that it’s working.
Cooking and Eating
Almost every professional chef on television notes that a parent or grandparent was the influence for their love of cooking. While you might not think you’re the best chef, there’s no doubt one of your dishes is likely to be your child’s favorite comfort food. Model healthy eating and cooking habits, including when to have treats. Try to avoid labeling foods as good or bad, or overtly talking about diets or weight as children internalize these messages even at a young age.
How we cope with our feelings is an integral child behavior to consciously model. While anger is a natural and acceptable emotion, how we deal with being angry is the issue. Your children will mimic your behaviors, both good and bad, so showcase appropriate ways to deal with their big feelings. Moreover, it is integral to model how to stand up for themselves if someone else is acting unfairly.
Related: 15 Useful Anger Management Tips
When you donate to charity, consider involving your kids in the process. Explain why you have chosen one charity in particular or how others could benefit from your donations. Tell your children how kindness makes you feel, and they will be more likely to follow in your footsteps. Watching your children showcase empathetic behavior are some of the best moments of being a parent.
Raising physically and emotionally healthy kids into adulthood is a massive undertaking. As the saying goes, it takes a village. Parenting involves so much more than providing the basics of food, water, warmth, and shelter. We want our children to be kind, honest, ambitious, and hard-working. Take a step back and consciously think about how you and your village model these behaviors.