Kids are like a mirror, what they see and hear they do. Be a good reflection for them.
– K. Heath
“You are your child’s role model”
“My dad is my first hero”
“I am, because my mom was…”
Do these phrases make you feel proud? Yes, but then you should also remind yourself that along with pride comes accountability and responsibility. It is appreciable that you have inspired your kid to thank and greet others, to follow table manners and traffic rules and to be considerate about your neighbors. On the other hand, there are also chances that you could have inspired your kid in a rather unfortunate way, your son/daughter is imitating your aggression, the words you spilled the day before is still lingering in your kid’s mind and the kid is mastering the art of procrastination by following you.
Parents greatly influence their children’s behavior. Children often absorb and imitate the parents’ way of doing things. The influence, apparently, can be both beneficial and detrimental to the child’s behavior. Nevertheless, it is important that parents set the right examples for their children.
This way of imitation is very innate to every kid though which he/she socializes. When you teach your kid how to eat properly or greet the guests, the kid is being socialized. Socialization is a learning process by which a kid molds itself to become a responsible participant in the family/classroom/society. Though socialization is a lifelong process, primary socialization is a very important phase when the idea of acceptance and learning is established within the kid’s notion. Only during this phase, with the influence of immediate family and friends, the kid learns the attitudes, values, and actions which he/she is made to believe to be more appropriate. For example, if the mother treats her maid in a disrespectful way, then the kid might also think that this behavior is acceptable and adopts the same.
The interesting, at the same time the tricky part about the way you as a parent influence your kid is, the kid is imitating you even beyond your imagination, in the most intricate ways. There are huge possibilities that the kid has even noted the way you smile and greet the food delivery person, that he/she firmly believes that such service providers too shall be treated with dignity and respect. On the other hand, when you have once in a while chosen to park your vehicle in an inappropriate place, the kid starts thinking that it is permissible to break the rules once in a while. So apparently, the ultimate accountability and responsibility for the trajectory of your child’s attitude and behavior is yours.
At times of frustration or anger, when a 5-year-old child uses a swear word, it is most likely that it is just mimicking the parent. So can the kid be blamed, disciplined and punished? Or is it the parent who require to be disciplined? Like mentioned before, it is important for parents to be a good role model. It is during this phase when the parents should start identifying and negotiating on negative behaviors that they have internalized and keep a constant check on the same. Practically speaking, it is not very feasible to create an ideal household. For instance, a small scuffle between the mother and the father is unavoidable. At such times it is advisable to distract the kid from the scene preventing him/her from imitating.
But most of the times kids do take time to observe before they attempt something. As a rational parent it is also essential to mold the kid in such a way that the kid develops this rationality to analyze and categorize good/bad behavior before imitating. It also helps when the kid steps outside home and starts adopting secondary socialization which involves influence of the peer groups, popular culture etc.