Posts Tagged ‘imitation’

Imitation is the most common human behavior. Not that we don’t think for ourselves, but in the volume of everyday activities we follow habits and leads from others. The family atmosphere develops from these regular reactions and imitated attitudes.

Parental reactions, critical and angry or fair and loving, are copied by the children in their responses back to the parents and on to others. These recycle through the family, and everyone reaps a little of what they sow. Give a Nice Day!

Everyone has seen parents who are always riding their children: “Blow your nose.” “Tuck in your shirt,” “Don’t touch,” and so on. On the other hand, we have all seen parents who never react and let their children run wild with no consideration for others or their property. Both extremes lead to problems.

Where, in the middle ground, is the right style of correction?

Most parents know what bad behavior is and they have no trouble recognizing it. But when asked what good behavior is, their answers become vague. A good exercise for parents is to list the specific good behavior they are looking for: doing something for his little brother, taking his dishes in from the table, getting dressed in the morning. With such a list of specific actions in mind it’s easier to “catch ’em being good!”

Parents can also develop a better feeling in the family by planning their responses to the childrens’ behavior. They can select which behaviors to encourage and which to discourage and decide to ignore the other troublesome behaviors for the time being. This plan cuts down on the temptation to constantly ride their children with complaints and criticisms.

Parents who frequently praise and encourage their children usually have a positive, and less frantic, family situation. A mother who balances criticism with encouragements and frequent compliments is more influential and closer to her children than Mom, the critic.

If you are a single parent, it may be all the more difficult to say to yourself, as a spouse might: “Don’t let me pick on the kids; stop me and point out the good things I do.”

In reacting to everyday problems, children most commonly imitate the adults they are with at home and school, and they imitate the style more often than the actions. Attitudes toward others, conversational style, and temperament are the durable characteristics of teachers and parents that are copied.

The disposition to punish and correct others can be learned just as easily as the disposition to encourage others but the results are vastly different. Punishment creates tension and sour feelings in the home and only shows that out of all the responses the child could have made, he has chosen a wrong one – try again. Little information is available in that.

Praise and encouragement makes for a happier home and tells the child that of all the things he could have done, this is one of the right ones.

A rewarding reaction is more difficult for parents because it takes time to decide what to reward and how to do it, but you will have a more pleasant job as a parent and you will have a child who is still informative, friendly, responsive, and not always wanting to go somewhere else!

Careful, the children are always watching.

Dr. Roger McIntire is Retired Associate Dean from the University of Maryland and author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times, Teenagers and Parents. Contact him through CCBS or go to Parentsuccess.com.


Read Full Post »