Friday, February 1, 2013

Which teaches your words or your actions?

As a mom of three boys let me tell you I know all about actions and loud households. With my first child I was more of a yeller and I would get easily frustrated. It's funny that my now 21 year old can be a yeller and is easily frustrated. I know it wasn't all me, but I do know a lot more now then I did back then and I parent very very differently. My 3 year old and 19m old have not heard me yelling and flying off the handle. I try to teach them more by doing than by telling them what to do and once more it has worked!

If you recall I talked about mirrored neurons in the past. Let me refresh your memory. Have you have every wondered how your baby learns to wave, clap or give high fives? Researchers recently discovered the presence in the human brain of "mirror neurons" which perceive physical action, facial expression and emotion. They teach baby to duplicate what he sees. Now you know why sign language comes so naturally to babies. Playng peek-a-boo, signing, using lots of facial expressions and emotions have a strong developmental effect on babies. In the same way when you are angry, excited, anxious, his mirror neuron will 'catch' your emotion and create that same feeling inside him. This is why we say anxious parents create anxious babies. It's best to try to fake your bravery when it comes to spiders, or close spaces if that is your fear. You could be accidentally creating those same fears into your child.

Concider what you are teaching your little one. If you want to teach them to be kind, gentle, in self control, then you must model it. What will your child learn if he sees you tossing the cat out angrily after scratching the furniture or you say no hitting as you spank him? Will your child learn compassion for others if he watches you sit comfortably while an elderly passenger stands by? Will he be polite and respectful if he hears you hollar across the room to squabbling youngster to "quit yelling!"? Which lesson will children remember? Your words or your actions? Research says it's your actions that speak louder.

If you want your babies to grow up to be gentle, kind and thoughtful, you must be a parent who hugs instead of hits, who shows compassion instead of impatience, who shows retribution and who listens instead of lashing out.

I have taught both my young boys to be kind, gentle and compassionate. I work very hard everyday to watch my own behaviour and try to 'show' them the person they can become. I've come a long way in 21 years and it's a conscious decision each time an obstacle occurs. Each time the milk spills, or Nashy dumps Cherrios all over the floor or gets into the toilet... each time Geran walks through the house with muddy boots... I stop myself, breathe and THINK first. I ask myself what kind of person do I want them to become... this is a teaching moment and then I proceed.

None of us are perfect, but we are the adults and have the ability to slow down and model what we want our children to be. It's our number 1 job right now. They are only little ONCE, it goes so fast.

Happy Parenting.


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