We’ve all heard the expression “actions speak louder than words.” Not only do I firmly believe that, I also think when it comes to parenting, actions teach better than words. My 18-month-old baby affirms this premise every day when she mimics my actions. Like the other day when she went over to the tissue box, grabbed a tissue, put it to her nose and blew air out her mouth. Not quite right, but she was on the right track! Even though I’ve never told her how to blow her nose, turn a door knob, use a spoon, or use the TV remote, she clearly has learned how by observing us.
The same can be said for kids of any age. Kids learn more by watching what we do than by listening to what we say. Some parents try to reverse this fundamental truth with statements like “Do as I say, not as I do!” Ah, if only that expression worked! But since it doesn’t, I urge you to pay attention to what you’re teaching your children with your actions.
Ask yourself, what are you modeling to your children?
I obviously couldn’t pose this question without asking it of myself. So here are some of the behaviors I’m modeling to my kids:
- Checking my teeth in the rear view mirror when I drive.
- Swearing when I’m stuck in traffic or hurt myself somehow.
- Rushing, rushing, rushing.
Uh, oh. I’m raising girls who will rush out the door late, check their teeth while driving, then swear when they get stuck in traffic. I so need to change my behavior! Luckily, I have a few years to re-teach them with my actions before they get behind the wheel of a car.
Fortunately, I’ve also been modeling some behaviors I want them to learn, like:
- Resolving disagreements with my hubby in a respectful tone of voice. (Most of the time!)
- Speaking up for myself when I've been mistreated.
- Balancing work and family life. (Most of the time!)
- Backing up what I say, especially when enforcing consequences of their sibling bickering.
Since none of us are perfect, I’m sure we’re all modeling some behavior to our kids that we don’t want them to do. What’s important though is that, as parents, we recognize we’re teaching our kids with our actions.
So the next time your children complain about doing chores, yell when they’re angry, or pout when they don’t get their way, ask yourself... am I modeling that behavior to my kids?