COLUMN: How does your behaviour influence your child?_1


The sooner parents acknowledge that they play an integral part in helping children navigate the world, the better.

I saw a very controversial post last year about how young children are as obsessed with the party lifestyle as much as their parents are. After all, the fruit don’t fall very far from the tree.

A lot of parents disagreed with this notion because they teach their children to not consume alcohol before the legal age. They were also adamant that they teach their kids about the effects of alcohol and encourage them to make good decisions.

Herein lies the question; What plays a more important role in shaping a child’s life? Their parent’s teachings or their actions?
Where do you start disciplining a swearing child when you do it yourself?

I had to start asking myself these questions when I swore in front of my daughter one time and she said the same word to me a few days later. This alone reminded me that children are always watching and listening.

Social Behavioural Learning teaches us that children learn how to interact socially based on what they observe. Psychologist Albert Bandura emphasises that “behavior is learned from the environment through the process of observational learning”.

This means that children learn how to behave from their parents, friends, teachers, and people they come into contact with.

For instance, parents who have negative altercations in front of their children affect their emotional wellbeing negatively. A SAGE Journal study looked at 99 children between the ages of nine to 11 years and found that children who are exposed to inter-parental conflict struggle to process emotion.

I have found myself, on numerous occasions, having to have self-conversations for saying or doing something that I would not want my child to do. The reality is that we are our children’s role models.

One argument of corporal punishment is that it teaches children that it is okay to hit when you are angry or disappointed at someone. Research also shows that children that witnessed their parents being abused are more likely to repeat the same behaviour when they grow up.

The reality of the parenting journey is that parents influence their children more than they admit to themselves, or even know. Your children might point to some international sports star as their role model, but their main role model, knowingly or unknowingly, is you. So modeling the right or desired behaviour for your children is key.

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