This is Week Three of the Empowered Families series here at My Sacred Sojourn. If this is your first time, you may want to begin by reading:
Empowered Families: Be a Super Model!
No, not the 6-foot tall pencil thin gals walking on 5-inch heels!! No, today I'm talking about modeling appropriate behavior and tools for your child. This one is pretty simple: kids can't use tools and practice behaviors if they haven't seen them in action.
What things would you like to see in your child? Let them see those things in you. For instance, if I want my children to use the phrases mentioned last week ("I don't like it when you..." or "I like it when you...") then I need to use those phrases at the appropriate times. When I'm doing my own chores, I can tell my 4-year old, "I'm doing these chores because these are my special jobs in our home. Can you do your special jobs with me?"
One of the things we've really been working on with our kids is eating dinner together as a family. We've been making a more concerted effort to prepare meals at home and eat at the table, without distractions. And during meals, my husband and I are modeling appropriate behavior: how to eat politely, what discussions are appropriate for the dinner table, when it's okay to leave the table, etc. Meal time offers a wealth of opportunities for modeling appropriate social behaviors!
A word about Apologies:
I'm not afraid to admit that I'm not perfect. I mess up. A lot. If I were a supermodel, I'd probably be more like this poor gal:
Luckily, when I mess up, it's not on national television! But when I fail there's still an audience and I believe it's important to be humble and to apologize to whoever was affected, even my children. If my husband or I have lost our cool, been impatient, interrupted or any of the other behaviors that we don't want to see in our own children, then we apologize. By apologizing to our children, we're modeling what we do when we fail. Failure will be a given. We cannot avoid it because we aren't perfect. The question is, what do we do when we fail?
Learning to "apologize well" and seek forgiveness is an extremely valuable lesson for my children to learn. They are learning that a rushed "sorry" is not an apology. They are learning that when we hurt someone or cause them pain, that we should humble ourselves and ask their forgiveness. We're learning that pride has no place here, if we're going to have a home with strong, healthy relationships. And they're learning that Mom and Dad care enough about them to reconnect, even when we screw up in some way.
I work as a preschool teaching assistant. From the first day I met my classroom's lead teacher, I heard one phrase over and over again: "We're always modeling, modeling, modeling." That's why it's so important for us to be aware of how we're interacting with each other, of what we're putting on display for our children.
I hope this week you'll take a few moments to jot down some notes. What type of behaviors do you want to see in your kids? Do they see those in you?