Children are blissful beings…. the core of pure potentiality, far removed from the various concepts that drive society. They learn to understand this world – and to behave accordingly – by observing things around them. Therefore, they eventually become products of their environment.
As Dr. Haim Ginott said, “Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression”. The wetter the cement – or, in other words, the younger the child – the deeper is the imprint.
Since a child’s first association for most of their formative years is with their parents, we need to be aware of what imprints we are leaving on our children.
Each of us carry the influences of our parents in our psyche. Some of us are aware of it – some of us are not. We all have experienced situations where we behave or think in a particular way and then realize -“I am becoming my mom/dad!”
We often wonder why this tends to happen. The fact is, it is simply because we have observed our parents behave that way in a similar situation. Of course, we can change that behavior or habit – but only if we can identify and be aware of something that is rooted deep in our subconscious mind.
When it comes to parenting, we tend to bring up our kids in the manner that we were reared by our own parents. Our reference is observed, learned and collected information stored in our subconscious minds since a very early age.
We must that, in any given situation, children learn by example. For instance, if we control our own emotions and responses to unwanted behavior, our children will observe this and emulate us.
The parenting mantra that most of us have picked up from our own parents is that ‘right’ parenting consists of correcting children whenever they go wrong. However, much like our own parents, we also tend to overreact to our kids’ misbehavior.
Overreaction is loss of control, and emotional reactions such as blame, guilt, and anger can upset us for hours. In other words, we must root out our inherited tendencies to overreact. We know from our own childhood experiences that overreaction in parents do not encourage positive behavior in children – much the contrary, in fact.
Overriding our own parental imprints and learning to manage our own emotions will make our disciplining efforts more effective and help our children control their own emotions. Self-control is an acknowledged prerequisite to child control.
As a parent, we need to know our limits and when to take a ‘chill pill’ on our child’s rules. If you are having a bad day, your child is apt to behave badly especially on that day because they can sense your mood.
If you are angry, sick, impatient and distracted, it is better to relax the rules of kid control on that day – it will be easier on you and less disrupting to your kid.
This does not mean that you should tolerate bad behavior, but merely that you control your emotions before reacting. By doing so, you reduce the chances of leaving indelible, anger-fueled negative imprints on your child’s psyche.
Concepts like honesty and integrity are also deeply rooted in childhood. Children observe and observe their parents’ values, which are ingrained in the value systems that each child subconsciously develops and follows for the rest of his or her life.
If parents teach their children to be honest and then contradict the lesson by lying to others in front of them, such lessons will never take root. Observed behavior leaves a much stronger imprint on a child’s psyche than instruction.
In the same vein, the best way of encouraging a child to be active and athletic is to go out and play with them once in a while, or to involve them is some physical activity like sports or a daily walk.
Parents who take care of their fitness tend to have active and healthier kids. If kids see their parents lazing around and eating fast food, no amount of coercion, instruction or entreaty with convince them to choose activity and fitness instead.
Interpersonal relationships – from the way a child’s parents treat their own parents to how they relate to their friends and with each other – are another area to watch for. It is an established fact that parents shouldn’t fight in front of their kids, but displays of love and unity in front of children are equally important.
Contrary to popular belief, such displays are very healthy for children, since they will base their own future relationships on these observations. It can be tricky at times, but being a good, considerate and loving human being is the first step to being a good parent.
Love, care, compassion and respect must not remain mere concepts – they must also be implemented for our children to acquire them. If this happens appropriately and visibly, our child will always live by these principles no matter what happens in their lives.
They key concept here is that we must be what we want our children to be. If something in our own behaviour needs working on, then is a good idea to do it. There is no doubt about the fact that your children finally grow up to make their own choices in life…. but somewhere beneath that will always be a foundation laid by you.
Children have a much better chance of growing up if their parents have done so first. ~ Susan Peters
© Shalini Harshwal
Shalini Harshwal has been dexterously juggling her career between film making, photography and freelance writing for film and television since the last three years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Mass Communication, and has been an assistant director on several projects. Her writing highlights her deep understanding of social issues, and of the role mass media plays in shaping and influencing social opinion and individual thinking.
This article may be reprinted with the complete author bio and a live link back to http://www.lovingyourchild.com
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