“Training a child is like painting on a blank canvas. You will greatly influence what it looks like. The beliefs you choose to adopt will impact your child forever. Make sure you practice healthy beliefs that serve both of you and the greater good.” Elayna Fernandez
Why do we as parents behave the way we do? Often it is because we model our behavior on the behavior that we saw in our own parents. While being parented, we have imbibed and absorbed some of the behavior reflected by our parents.
Sometimes, information gathered from books on parenting and from discussion forums have guided us to choose a behavior or accept certain beliefs.
All of us as parents have some ideas about how a child is to be raised, what values need to be instilled in them and what goals need to be set for them, to prepare them for a highly competitive and ruthless world. These culturally shared ideas and how they develop are referred to as beliefs.
Since we live in social communities and each society is influenced by its unique culture, all that we learn from this culture influences our parenting as well.
Children observe their parents and their behaviour, even when we think they are not watching or listening. While very young children love showing off their parents to their friends, teenagers are often embarrassed by any overt show of affection by parents in the presence of their friends. Hence, how we behave changes with the changing needs and age of our children. It is also important, therefore, to be an involved parent and not an interfering parent.
Balancing this is not only difficult it is also stressful. To have a positive effect or impact on growing children it becomes essential that a parent leads by example. As Robert Fulgham effectively puts it, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you.”
If you want your child to display a certain type of behavior, model that behavior yourself. Children see you as role models. How you speak, how you react, how you respond are being watched and imitated by your children. So, if good behavior is what you seek, then good behavior is what you want them to see.
As children grow up and move onto different environments, school, the playground, friend’s homes, etc. they begin to experience and are exposed to different behavior and habits. We, as parents, have very little control over this. Being away from parents is a good thing, as that is the only way children learn to adapt and make choices. Despite this, we are the most influential people in our children’s lives, and they pick up habits, beliefs, mannerisms, ideas and values from us. And yet, we shouldn’t expect them to be mirror images of ours.
While a lot of our children’s actions are a direct result of our own behaviour, there will be behavior that is a result of their own choices and this need to be respected. Allowing children to make their own choices and respecting these choices instills self-confidence and enhances self-esteem.
There will be times when they get it wrong. But it’s important to remember that those failings aren’t failings, but part of the process of learning, growing and becoming one’s own self. Sometimes they may embarrass us. But they will also make us proud.
While parenting styles have a great impact of how children behave, the child’s behavior is a result of a combination of nature and nurture. Your methods of disciplining, interacting with and relating to your child are all a part of nurture and your style of parenting.
In conclusion, to help children behave in a socially acceptable way, we need to make them responsible for their actions and trust them to make the right decisions.
Ultimately the most important thing is to behave in a way that you would want your child to emulate, listen to your child’s needs, and set clear boundaries that are appropriate and helpful to the child. Every parent wants the best for their child and to help make this happen, remember to be aware of how your actions impact them.
“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach” – W.E.B. DuBois
Contributed by Neethi Srikumar, AVP – Operations,
Shri Educare Limited
(For more tips on Positive Parenting, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org)