I happened to watch a video explaining the title of this article. There was a grownup and and a kid each in all the videos. One father steps over a lady’s shopping bag, his son follows suit. A lady shopper has dropped her bags, the items are scattered around. Instead of helping, this man just steps over the strewn items and moves on. The kid is also shown stepping over and moving on. In the next frame this man is shown helping the lady gather her things. The son too follows suit. He has learnt a lesson of helping others in distress. In both the frames he just mimics his father, in the second one he has learnt a lesson of helping others.
There was another clipping showing a boy walk with his hands in his pant pocket. He was mimicking his father, who had also thrust his hands in his pockets. The man was slouching and dragging his feet. The boy was also walking in the same fashion. Another lady was seen smoking and her child had a cigarette in his hands. His mother crushed the stub with her shoes, and he too followed suit.
In yet another frame, a father is shown physically and verbally abusing a woman. The young boy too shows the same aggression. It was eerie watching all these frames. The children were just mimicking the elders and though the video was funny, it was disturbing too.
This is why parents are always being told to be careful how they behave and what they say. The children are imbibing these gestures and words and they will use them later. If parents are using them, why can’t they? That is their logic.
A parent wanted to know if it was ok for the parents to show affection to each other when the kids were around. As long as the behavior denoted affection, it is fine. Hugging, holding hands, sitting side by side, etc are all acceptable. This will show the children their parents’ marriage is healthy and full of love. But if the parents indulge in any gesture that can be sexual in nature, the child will be interested and become curious.
Since children are watching and learning, the parents must make the effort to teach only positive and acceptable behavior. Inappropriate behavior has to be frowned upon, the parents too have to desist from indulging in it. When children see the adults not eating vegetables, they too will resist attempts at eating them. When they see the adults drinking plenty of water, they too will follow this. And in a city like Chennai, one has to keep oneself well irrigated.
Children have impressionable minds. And they are very observant. Something as simple as putting your food plate for wash in the sink can be taught through action. When the child sees the parent picking up his/her plate and putting it for wash, he/she will also do it. Many homes I see the men folk will leave their food plate and get up and wash their hands. If you tell a child in that house to put his plate for wash, he will want to know why? “Dad does not do it, why should I?”
When boys see their fathers pitch in and help the mothers with household chores, they too will come to respect chores. They will not expect anyone to do it for them, they will become self sufficient. The way parents interact with their peers will give children lesson to interact with their peers. Social rules and etiquette will be learnt from watching the parental behavior.
In a movie I had seen, a very young boy imitates his father shaving. He applies the shaving foam, uses the razor, and ends up nicking himself. He later applies after shave, it stings and he yells. He has just copied his father’s moves, not realizing why his father shaves. This scene is hilarious, but again it is a pointer to the fact that children imitate their elders.
The psychiatrist who showed us the video was very emphatic on this issue. She kept repeating how children are great mimics and it is the parents’ duty to give them positive examples. A confident parent will have confident children. A parent who has the habit of reading books, will show through example it is a good hobby. A parent who is aware of fitness and diet, will motivate the child to be health conscious. And a parent who smokes and drinks will also motivate the child to do so.
We must give our children stimulating circumstances and encourage them to think for themselves. The more variety we expose them to, the broader will be their experiences. They can take better decisions and they will thank you later for improving their intellectual levels. And if you want your child to learn good habits, you will have to exhibit the same.