My preschooler copies EVERYTHING I say and do. I know, I know – this shouldn’t come as a major surprise. But in fact it does. Especially when it’s something brand new. Something I haven’t seen or heard before. Something that comes out of nowhere. Like when I am driving and she has used that “very inappropriate word” while talking to her imaginary friend. Say whaaaaaat? Whooopsie…
Lately, I’ve really been giving this a lot of consideration. I mean we’re all usually operating on “auto-pilot” without really thinking too much about what messages we are sending to our kids. Heck, we’re busy! We don’t have time to analyze these kinds of things. Or do we? (Yes people, the answer is yes).
The messages that we think are important and want to teach are obvious (i.e. sharing) and we even give “lessons” on the subject. But it’s the other, more subtle lessons that kids are picking up also. I’ll give you some examples from my own life:
(1) I am on the computer.
Facebooking. Tweeting. Reading blogs. Shopping. You get the idea. Real important stuff right? (Rhetorical)
Unspoken Message: I don’t have time for you.
(2) “Hurry up. Get in the car. Sit down. Get out. Repeat”.
The Truth: I sometimes over-plan and try to cram too much into the day. Often, I don’t give us enough time to get in and out of the car when running errands and it escalates as I am feeling more rushed and my daughter is feeling like “this trip sucks – can’t you wait an extra minute for me to get in the car?” This kind of makes me sad writing this actually.
Unspoken Message: You’re too slow and it’s really frustrating to me because I have “stuff to do”. Deeper Message: Oh, and all this stuff is more important than you.
Of course I have to do all these “errands” which consist of running a household. But do I have to do it this WAY? No. And are there other things I could cut out a little from my life to give me more time? Yes. See above ;)
(3) Just let me do that for you. It will be faster. It will take less time and we can get going on running all our errands (see above) ;)
Unspoken Message: You aren’t capable of doing this on your own.
(4) Yelling. Going over the deep end.
Why am I surprised when my daughter yells back at me when she’s experiencing frustration? Maybe because I didn’t know sounds that loud were capable of coming out of such a small mouth. Actually, it’s more likely because I forget that frustration for her manifests in smaller things….like not being able to do up her own jacket zipper. (see above) ;)
Unspoken Message: This is an acceptable way to vent frustration: Yelling at People.
This post is more for you than me, although I know all parents can relate to some degree. It's an exploration of the lessons I am passing onto my daughter without really thinking about it. This is good because at least now I can work on changing it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get off the computer and play with my little girl. Have a wonderful day!