You hear a little voice exclaim “well that’s enough for one day!” you giggle to yourself because you hear yourself in your child. Then you realise, this little human is listening to and observing everything I do. Research shows how children learn by watching their caregivers and imitating their behaviours (Morin, A 2021).
So, how can we make the most out of our importance in their developing behaviour? Let’s look at 6 simple behaviours we can model in front of our children :
- Show your gratitude for the non-material, important things, out loud!
I try to remember to often say out loud something like “I am so grateful for my children, they’re pretty cool” when they’re close by. I remember once when my son’s friend knocked on the door, his face lit up and running to open the door; he expressed “I am so grateful for my best friend, he is like a brother!”
2. Speak positively about yourself in the mirror
This can feel uncomfortable at first, but even something as little as “I really like how the colour of my top brings out my eyes today” can help model self-love and acceptance to a child.
3. Be expressive with a hobby which is meaningful to you and which you are passionate about.
Showing our children how important individual interests are helps them gain the confidence to follow their own interests. Or we may find they want to join in with ours! When people show passion for something, it can be so inspiring.
4. When faced with a problem, model emotional regulation, strategic thinking and positive thinking.
For example, if we lost our bank card, we could say “wow, this feels kind of frustrating. (take a moment to breathe and feel calm) I am going to check/call the place I last went to. It’s good that it was not my whole bag”. Modeling how we handle stressful situations can help our children gain valuable life skills.
5. Maintain your own boundaries and assertiveness
When we are respectful towards ourselves and speak up for ourselves towards other people, both in public and at home, this really shows our children the standard that they too should be accepting for themselves.
6. Own lessons we have learned from
Owning our own lessons shows children that mistakes are there to become better from. They are not something to fear, they can be valuable in our growth. We are learning and making mistakes our whole lives, and reframing them into a lesson instead of shame will do wonderful things for our children.
7. Apologise authentically
Apologising shows courage and creates connection. I am often apologising to my son when I have got it wrong, misheard, or misinterpreted something by also acknowledging where I got it wrong and how it affected him. And he will often apologise to me without any prompting. When an apology is followed by a conscious effort to understand better, it is very meaningful.
I would love to hear any of your ideas, leave a comment below!