Being a parent in today’s world is extraordinarily challenging; to say that most parents are dealing with more than they bargained for would be an understatement.
Taking a step back to notice the impact your behavior has on your child can become a great opportunity to promote positive change in both your lives.
It is the norm to presume your sullen teenager (or younger child) is completely oblivious to your actions – this is rarely the case. Teenagers and children are usually very observant of parent’s actions and behaviors. Actions will always speak louder than words.
Take the time to think about your actions and behaviors in front of your kids. Are you behaving in a way that you would want your child to believe as ‘normal behavior’, ‘appropriate behavior’. Do you treat others the way you want your children to treat others. Do you treat yourself the way you want your children to grow up treating themselves.
I often come across kids who are very confused about this. They may ask;
“What’s wrong with shouting at my sisters, my mum shouts at her sisters all the time”?
“Why should I eat a good meal 3 times a day, my mum doesn’t, she is always talking about loosing weight”?
“Why do I need to slow down and take time out for myself, my dad never stops working, he never has time for himself”?
“Why should I turn off my phone at meal times, nobody else does”?
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
The way you value yourself, the way you treat others and the way you treat your time is a daily role modeling experience for your child. Is this a positive or negative role modeling experience for them? Do you put yourself down in front of them, do you speak badly of friends and/or family in front of them, do you value yourself and take time for yourself, can you say sorry, can you admit it when you are wrong?
Nobody is perfect, we will all loose our tempers, argue with family/friends, not take time out for ourselves – but this should not be the norm. The example we set out for our children and teenagers at home is the basis for the person they will grow into in future years.
If you behave in a way you are not proud of, take the time to explain it to your child/teen. Show them how you are going to make things right. Whether that is apologizing to someone, taking time to talk something through with someone, you will be giving your child a very important life lesson. Take responsibility for your actions. This is a lesson that will stand to them throughout their lives.