8 tips for better behaviour.. for YOU, not your kids
'I blame the parents' is a phrase that is bandied around a lot, whether in jest if a kid dumps his spaghetti over his head, or with intent if a child is wild or really badly behaved.
When my son lashes out in temper, I wonder if he somehow picked it up from seeing me lose my shit in hormonal rages around the house when he was a baby.
When my daughter automatically starts twirling or 'putting on a show' for her grandparents, I wonder if she inherited the show-off gene from me.
(She probably did).
While it is great to see so many of our positive attributes in our little ones as they grow up, it is important to remember that often times they can pick up our crappy behaviour too.
Just how much effect do we have as parents over our children's personalities, moods and eventual outcome as adults?
Dr. Lisa Nalven, M.D, says mimicry begins at birth and toddlers do what they see from age one.
"..many newborns, for instance, copy facial movements such as sticking out their tongue. But age 1 marks the beginning of true imitation, or imitation with intent.
Imitation in one-year-olds follows a four-step process: watching and listening, processing the information, attempting to copy a behavior, and practicing.
With that in mind, shouldn't we place less emphasis on trying to force our kids into becoming perfect little boys and girls with all the gimmicks we see on parenting shows, the 'techniques' for discipline or the professional insight into what we could do better?
Shouldn't we save all that energy on simply trying to better ourselves? If the world really operates on a 'monkey see, monkey do' set of rules, then surely if we conduct ourselves with calm, love, good manners and kindness around our kids, then they will mimic us and behave the same?
If you're thinking about a little self-improvement in the behaviour department, try a few of these tips:
1. Find the time
I probably watched a hundred SuperNanny episodes before I had kids and the only real piece of advice that I ever took away from it was to spend quality one-on-one time with my kids as much as possible. That means switch the phone off and really, really spend time hanging out with them; playing, reading or chatting. They are never happier than when they have your full attention.
2. Check yourself
Just take a little moment before freaking out unnecessarily over something your kid is doing. Sometimes, when they are being really annoying to you, they are really just playing. Perhaps they are singing that song so loudly because it simply makes them happy, or banging on the kitchen press because it sounds like a drum. That doesn't really warrant a narky reaction, does it?
3. Chill out
Do whatever it is you need to do to be calm; yoga, walking, taking a bath, reading a book - your main aim is to show your kids what being a calm and happy human looks like, which should in turn teach them to do the same.
4. Have a change of scenery
There are days when I find myself in an uphill battle with the kids almost from the moment we wake up, and actually get tired of the sound of my own voice saying 'Stop!', 'Sit down', 'Leave your sister alone', 'Don't touch..!' If I can get tired of hearing myself giving out, then I'm sure Jacob feels the same. On days like this, getting everyone out of the house - even for an hour - can change the mood and get us all into better form.
5. Make sacrifices
We all know that being a parent is all about making sacrifices; we no longer can simply do everything we want. There are some things we should absolutely keep away from our kid's inquisitive eyes and mimicking minds, such as smoking and excessive drinking - so if that means holding off on any of this until the kids are in bed or until you are out of the house altogether, then so be it.
6. Knock it off
I am a major potty mouth but vowed to restrict my swearing to on stage and online when I had kids. However, the odd F-bomb has dropped out which of course has resulted in Jacob repeating me. How can I tell them not to swear if I'm doing it right in front of him?
7. Street devilling is out
How you conduct yourself in public, whether that be in the car, at a restaurant or in the shops, is precisely how your kids think they should behave too. So don't give other drivers the finger, be a dick to your waiter or forget your manners when you get to the checkout. Remember, you are being watched.
8. Go professional
If you really find that your behaviour is out of control, then book in to speak to a counsellor. There is nothing braver than doing everything possible to be the very best version of yourself.
Do you believe in improving our own behaviour for our kids? Let us know in the comments!