“Am I teaching my children the right values?”
Most parents seem to be pre-occupied with how to instill the right values, such as honesty, integrity and respect; speaking and treating others respectfully.
All parents want the best for their children, but what most parents don’t realize is that children learn by example.
You might say that the “being of the parent” teaches all. If you want to teach your child anything, you must become that which you desire for your child. The way you see your child teaches him how to see himself. The way you love your child teaches him how to love others. This means that parental threatening, hugging and even silence teaches all!
The child’s inner camera is constantly capturing and storing their parent’s actions, behaviors and responses in memory, as data that will be used when similar situations arise in the child’s life. Visual imprints are thus formed in the child’s subconscious mind or psyche. Therefore, when parental advice or sermon opposes the visual imprints, the child will overlook the parent’s verbal attempts at teaching and will model the parent’s behavior.
Let’s say that a parent is annoyed at being interrupted by his child and says, “Shut up please.” Later that day, the parent is relaxed and takes the child to the park. The parent notices that his child is disrespecting another child in the playground. The parent feels this is the perfect opportunity for him to teach his child some values. He talks to his child about the importance of respecting others and talking respectfully. “Say sorry” demands the father, when the child says “shut up” to another child in the sand pit.
The child wonders why he needs to be apologetic, “Isn’t saying “shut up” what we do in this family?” He is confused and yields to the pressure of apologizing out of fear, but he hasn’t understood the lesson.
He will continue to see what he has seen and model the behavior of his parents, regardless of the verbal lessons or discipline. There is a powerful video on the internet called, “Children see, Children do” which demonstrates this very concept.
Here is an interesting twist to the teaching tale. Consider that when parents feel the need to teach something, it could be because they are not living it themselves. If we do not have it in ourselves, the urge for our children to have that quality, could be even stronger. Like one mother remarked, “I cannot bear to see myself in her! “
We, as parents, unconsciously impart messages and cues 24×7! Children observe how we handle our mistakes and theirs; they observe how we respond to criticism as well as conflicts. They notice how we react to a change in weather, our attitudes at long queues and towards old people. By observing the people with whom they live closely, children automatically learn!
Children learn more from what is practiced, than from what is preached.
Children learn from what we are, not from what we teach.
Children learn what they see lived.