Lots of factors influence a child’s development.
Peers, teachers, youth group leaders, engage them daily.
Even TV shows, movies, and social media nowadays play a huge role in influencing your kids’ behavior.
However, the first and foremost influence in your child’s life when it comes to developing appropriate behavior is you, their parent.
You have a huge impact on what your child learns and how lessons are integrated into their lives.
That’s why it’s important for you to understand the impact of your influence.
When Children Reflect Their Parents’ Behavior
You may not realize it, but your child is very much aware of other people’s behavior, especially your own. Children are like little social scientists. They are always taking note of the behaviors and interpersonal interactions of other people. When they see a behavior they will often mimic that behavior themselves. For example, if they see you curse enthusiastically after hitting your thumb with a hammer, they will be more likely to do the same thing. Granted, if they are young, they are not going to understand what those words mean. Only, that they are supposed to say those things when they are in similar situations.
Creating Learning Opportunities
When your child does display inappropriate behavior, such as talking out of turn, is your first instinct to scold them? Is your objective simply to stop the immediate behavior, or are you trying to teach them a lesson long-term? What can help in these situations is to approach them as teaching opportunities. Remember, as your child gets older they are trying to understand their place in the world, and that requires navigating more complex social situations with appropriate guidance.
Repetition: Practice Makes Perfect!
The old saying “practice makes perfect” certainly applies to social interactions. Practice these situations with your child and allow them to make mistakes. The only way that they will integrate what they learn is to have the chance to try, fail, and recover. For example, you know that you are going to a family reunion. Practice how to talk to other adults and children. For instance:
- Maintaining eye contact
- Saying “please” and “thank you.”
- Asking to be excused
Practice creates repetition, which over time develops into skill. You are a big influence over how your child master’s these behavioral skills.
Knowing How to Cope with Stress
Your influence is a powerful factor in teaching your children how to cope with stressful situations. For example, let’s say your child is playing a game with other children. Your child believes that another child is not playing fairly. What should they do? Here is a great chance to show your child the options they have available. For example:
- Politely saying to the child that they are not playing fair.
- Being open to the other child’s response.
- If they don’t feel heard, determining an appropriate response or taking a break.
- Remembering that they can ask you, a teacher, or coach for help.
Whether you are a child or an adult, it’s helpful to know that there are options available when in difficult situations.
The Long-Term Effect of Your Influence
Make no mistake, the long-term effect of your influence is great. As your child gets older, they will absorb the lessons they have learned and apply them to their own life. This can be a positive, or a negative, depending on what they have learned from you. In time, they will pass on those lessons to their own children.
If you believed you had little influence on your child’s behavior, you now know different. The reality is that what they learn from you will not just impact them, but potentially future generations to come.