From the moment a child is born, they possess the inherent ability to observe like a hawk and imitate like an award winning actor. Like it or not, the main adults in their life are going to be the object of this super power, with no limits as to how often it is used and to what extent.
I certainly know, as a parent myself I have experienced those moments when my wee little lovely, has turned around and mimicked back a sentence or a saying, that really doesn’t sound so cute coming from someone that is only knee high to a grasshopper! In fact, there are many moments our actions, reactions and spoken words are inhaled into the repertoire of learning that span a childhood for better or for worse.
There are so many things that are absorbed from our world to theirs, including but by no means limited to, how and what we eat, exercise, drink, smoke, socialise, interpersonal relationships, reactions, conversations, knowledge, fears and so on. Yes, even as teenagers (believe it or not) they are listening to your words, observing your actions, examining how you handle everything from stress, life’s challenges and disappointments to personal relationships and of course our habits like drinking consumption, money management or emotional responses such as anger and confrontation. What is it your offspring are observing and mirroring?
But wait! Does this not require being some kind of perfect parent, a perfect flawless human being that consistently operates in the realms of heroic leaders. No, not at all, we make mistakes and if we admit to our flaws and blunders, learning from them and proactively try and be better people, mistakes too can serve as powerful tools in our young people’s learning.
Please, let’s not forget all the beautiful, positive and loving traits we also demonstrate and deliver on a daily basis. These too are equally taken in by our eager learners and are incredibly valuable on their journey of emotional growth. Modelling empathy, confidence, positivity, kindness, healthy choices, making choices, interests, education and many more wonderful qualities, behaviours, characteristics and strengths teach our young fledglings life learning that will leave us feeling extremely proud as adults.
The most important lesson that role modelling teaches us is that it is an extremely effective parenting tool. Being a positive role model requires insight, self-awareness and self-control. There is always a lot of talk about disciplining our children. As parents we also need to put an equal if not stronger emphasis on disciplining ourselves. In this way we pass on the attitudes, values and traits we would most like to see our children and teenagers adopt to become the adults you would like them to be.
Last thought…. I promise!! Role modelling isn’t just the exclusive domain of parents…it is one of all adults and is also something that needs to be demonstrated in many other facets of life. ‘Grown-ups’ are in positions of influence, guidance and responsibility…. they are managers, politicians, sports people, priests, supervisors, members of our family, leaders, followers, coaches, friends and so on. If we hold true that it takes a village to raise a child, then our children will become what we are, so let’s be what we want them to be.