The other day I saw a meme on Facebook: “Our job as parents is not to train children to act like adults. Our job is to be better adults.”
Something about having (or even being around) children forces us to look at ourselves more closely and critically. Children are at once 1) mirrors, reflecting us back to us, 2) sponges, soaking up and learning everything, and 3) little drunk people, who cannot control their emotions and behaviours.
When we yell in frustration “STOP YELLING, BE QUIET OR ELSE!” they will copy our approach to dealing with things that don’t go their way.
When we tell them that their work is just not good enough, their brains internalize our voice and they learn to tell themselves they are not good enough.
When we force them to do things they are not developmentally ready to do, we undermine their growth and maturity.
They hear every negative thing we say about others; they see every reaction we have under stress; they internalize our messages…
We must be our best selves as we help them develop their own navigation system for the world: they need a sense of right and wrong, judgment to know the difference, wisdom to make good decisions, and strength to stick to the right choices.
Children watch our every word and deed, learning from every breath we take and every move we make. It is imperative for us to strive to be better adults. We must model for them good behaviour.