Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Role Modeling

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. ~James Baldwin

Of all the educational and parenting tools at our disposal, the most effective is role modeling, and this is especially true when it comes to teaching values:

Whatever we publicly proclaim, our actual values (as opposed to the values to which we aspire) are always, always, always most accurately and honestly revealed by our behaviors. When we eat junk food, we demonstrate that we value convenience or flavor over eating healthily. When we don't get enough sleep, we demonstrate that we value our jobs or our hobbies or our TV programs more than rest. When we let our homes become cluttered and dirty, we demonstrate that we value something else over a well-ordered household.

We sometimes get so wrapped up in scolding or instructing or otherwise trying to get kids to believe or behave as we think they should that we forget that they have already learned the real lesson by simply watching us:

No, the better course, I've found, when it comes to teaching values is to simply give up trying to make another person do something that you want them to do. If you value healthy food, then eat it. If you value being well rested, then sleep. If you value a tidy bedroom, then keep yours tidy. And ultimately, with time, sometimes lots of time, it will be your role-modeling of these behaviors that your child will come to imitate, not on your schedule, but one of his own, which is all we can expect of our fellow humans.

I posted this video on my Facebook page a couple of days ago and thought I ought to share it with the blog readers as well. I'm not sure why the original poster says this public service announcement was banned. Several people have commented that it is, in fact, simply an older ad that ran for awhile and is now off the air. In any event, it is a real gut punch and includes scenes that could be triggers for some folks, but man does it make its point.

We worry about the influence of TV or movies or video games or peers, but those things will never be more powerful than we are. And, of course, remember that when a child does the right thing, when a child is empathetic, when a child is kind, that too has been role modeled by the important adults in their lives.

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Rhonda B said...

So true. I have to remind myself of this on a daily basis - especially those days when I'm in a bad mood or not feeling well. It's tough to "be the adult" sometimes, but it's necessary if we want to keep our cool and be positive role models for our children.

Anonymous said...

I'm Australian and have seen this TV commercial before. I didn't know it had been banned. I'm disappointed if it has been. When I first saw the commercial it made me cry (still did). I think the commercial shows such an important message to all us adults. It should be played on the TV regularly.
We always need to remember, whether we work with children, are parents or simply are around children in our life - let them see and learn the best from us.