Oftentimes we do not see what is right in front of our eyes. Our children offer us clues each day as to how we might be able to shift, pivot, and grow our approach to best support them. When we spend some time watching our children and the behavior they exhibit, we gain valuable insight and information. Our children are our greatest teachers in our adult lives.
You may be asking yourself “how?”
Have you ever noticed that your child is exhibiting strange or out-of-character behaviors? What if such behaviors were a result of something we have said, done or modeled for them? Could we be questioning our child’s actions when in actuality we should be questioning our own?
As you get ready to begin your day, think about your routine. Do you spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, choosing clothing, applying makeup, picking out a tie or dress shoes? When you are looking for something to eat, are you critical, judgmental or find yourself using words with negative connotations about that food? How do you treat others outside of the home? If you have a run-in with a cashier at a store, how do you manage this conflict? Does it escalate? Are you loud and irritable or calm but persistent?
Our children see each and every one of these examples and take the information into their own data bank for processing. The way in which it manifests in them, and their behavior is the interesting part. In most cases, we do not immediately see any correlation between our own behavior and what we are seeing in our children. If we do the same routine each and every day, we might not even realize that we have this routine. It is as if our routine is robotic.
However, our children notice. They see and hear everything. The result? They act out what they learn that day, a day or two later, or perhaps even 6 months later. We might be so detached from our own daily life that we just don’t put the two scenarios together.
So, what can you do? Here are my recommendations:
- When you see your child acting a certain way— one that brings question or curiosity to your mind— rather than looking deeper at the child’s behavior, hold the reflective mirror up to yourself and ask yourself, what does this behavior say or show me? What is this behavior here to teach me about myself? Where could this action or reaction come from? Children do not come into this world programed; we do that with them and for them, unless we don’t!
- Reflect, introspect, and touch base with your behavior, actions, words, lack of words, body movements, non-verbals, judgments and language. Try to see something that comes through your child that is about you or from you each day. Rather than approaching this in a negative way, reframe it as an opportunity to learn about what you are putting out there for your children/family. This is a great way to see yourself more clearly in your own parenting journey.
- Your children will teach you so much! Are you allowing that to happen?