Saturday, February 19, 2011

Children Learn By Example - Duh!

Children learn by example.  We all know this. (You do know this, right?) So, while your saying, "duh, yeah, I already know this" I challenge you to take a look at your own life and examine how your children are learning by your own example, good or bad.

I'm sure you can pick out the parents who namedrop and spend too much time obsessing about labels.  Their kids are judging their peers by the name on their tennis shoes and labels on their jeans.  Trust me when I tell you that kids whose parents don't care about labels aren't interested in scrutinizing their friend's clothes and accessories. But, if Suzie walks around school bragging about the specific brand name of her sweater or shoes or makes comments about your kid's attire, rest assured that mom and dad (well, probably just mom) are too.

Do you know the positive self-esteem parents?  Don't criticize your children!  Everyone is a winner!  You are special!  UGH.  Why didn't these parents get the memo explaining that life isn't fair?  Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.  Sometimes your kid does well and sometimes he doesn't even try.  In the very simplest terms, some of life's best lessons come from disappointment so if your kids aren't experiencing disappointment they aren't learning anything.  I'm sure you can pinpoint the parents who gush about their children's accomplishments like you and I talk about the weather.  I'm all for self-esteem, but in the real world not everyone is going to think my kid is so great.  So, while I do tell my kids when I think they've done a good job, I've been know to throw out a "you know, that really wasn't your best work" when asked about a piano performance or a baseball practice.  My criticism is usually followed with a "how about practicing some more and trying again?"  The onus is on him to want to do better, not wait around for pointless praise.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Negative Nelly parents.  Their toxicity radiates so far that you need a Hazmat suit just to get within ten feet.  They pass onto their kids that being mean or complaining about everything is a way to get noticed.  These kids don't stand a chance. 

Do you know a rude kid?  The parents are rude, too.  Do you know a kid who drops f-bombs in class?  The parents swear at home. What fascinates me is how these parents are oblivious to their own involvement in their child's behavior.  As I've shared before, I yell.  Therefore my children yell.  I'm not proud of this characteristic but I know that my kids haven't picked up on this terrible trait by watching some stranger on the street corner.  I've shown it to them and I repeatedly do it and cringe every time.  I'm aware of my behavior. I'm also aware that my kids are picking up on my perfectionist tendencies.  I have to make a concerted effort to own up to my blunders and let my kids know that I make mistakes, too.  I'm not good at admitting mistakes (in fact, I hate it), but I'm doing it for their sake. 

I have no tolerance for parents who can't imagine why junior is lazy and unwilling to work for anything.  His parents gave him everything he ever wanted.  Why would he have to work for anything when Mom and Dad have provided without question all these years?   I refuse to raise lazy, unmotivated kids so my kids are required to earn their privileges. Christopher has to take the trash out on Tuesdays.  Just because I can buy Nicholas a lift ticket at the skiing hill doesn't mean I will.  He is learning to ski this year with his school ski club, but it's an expensive sport.  How about cleaning your bathroom and picking up dog poop to earn some skiing privileges?  Nicholas grumbles every time I ask him to clean the toilet or get out his pooper scooper shovel, but he eventually does it.  There is usually some yelling involved (hey, I've already admitted my shortcomings) before the job is complete, but he is learning that his Dad and I don't just stand there with an open wallet handing out dollar bills.

Here are the examples I try to set for my kids:
What are your children learning from you?


Jenna said...

Great post!

Kim Murray said...

Thanks, Jenna! I know you and I see eye-to-eye ;)


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