Have you ever though about the underlying messages that your children pick up from the things you’re doing or saying?
We experienced this with my 6-year-old one weekend when we were away with friends. She approached my husband and asked him, “Daddy, why do you love those people more than me?” He was, of course, shocked and said that of course he didn’t’, to which she replied, “Then why do you spend all your time with them?”
Children are making all sorts of assumptions based on our behavior, and these hidden messages that you don’t know you’re giving off directly affect their self-image, confidence and later success in life.
Imagine that you are in a restaurant with your little one and he blows bubbles in his milkshake (as all children do) a little too hard, spilling it all over the table and your new bag. As you freak out – “Arrrgh, what a mess, you’ve ruined my new bag, why did you have to do that?!”, could there possibly be a hidden message that the bag is more important than him? Or that it’s not ok to make mistakes?
Do we really want our kids growing up afraid to make mistakes? Isn’t fearlessness and the ability to take action and recover quickly from mistakes the mark of a successful person? And aren’t people ALWAYS more important than things?
Or perhaps imagine yourself on the phone to Telkom for a neverending issue that you’re having with your ADSL (I think we can all relate). As you scream and swear and generally lose the plot, what do you think your child is learning about the worth of other people? About how to handle challenging situations? About what constitutes something worth getting worked up about? About our ability as human beings to remain peaceful within regardless of what is going on around us?
How you spend your time, your reactions to little daily occurrences, these are the things that your children are watching and learning from, not the things that you consciously lecture them about over dinner. What are they learning from you? You’ll be surprised how much they pick up on – even when you think they’re not watching or listening. Little sponges, remember!
So remember, the best lessons that your children get from you are all from how you live your own life. In other words, be the change you want to see in your kids.