Why is it so important to model behavior?
As adults, we may not always be aware that our children are watching us all the time. Dr. Maria Montessori would probably tell us that our children not only hear everything, but they also see, imprint, and even mirror our behaviors. And from the day our children are born, they are watching the adults around them. Everything we do, everything we say is locked away in their memory. And with this said, as adults, teachers and parents, we need to understand how important it is to model behavior for our children.
Dr. Montessori provides a great quote in her book, The Child in the Family, (1956):
‘The child is sensitive and impressionable to such a degree that the adult ought to monitor everything he says and does, for everything is literally engraved in the child’s mind.’
Modeling values for our children
Whether we are teaching children at school or at home, we need to be aware of our children’s senses always being heightened by everything around them. Conversations in our children’s presence need to represent important values such as respect, empathy, active listening and sincerity. If we model these values for our children, they will learn from us, and they will likely mirror or imitate our actions.
Showing interest in your child’s day is hugely important. While we, as adults, live such busy lives, we need to put ourselves in our children’s ‘shoes’. Our children have not seen us all day, and they crave our attention at pick-up. We need to show them our sincere interest in what they are eager to tell us, and we need to actively listen, restating or rephrasing what we have heard, elaborate on what they are telling us, and make this conversation an opportunity for a beautiful teachable moment.
All adults in our children’s lives play a vital role in the education and development of the personality of our children, and we need to strive to see the world through the eyes of our children.
Children do not expect us to be perfect, and it is important for us, as adults, teachers and parents, to do a little self-reflection. Making a conscious effort to be a positive role model for our children is tremendously important. Ask yourself what you value and if your behavior demonstrates that value to your children.
Self-Reflection is important
Here are a few examples of questions we, the adults, might want to ask ourselves to help us reflect on our actions:
- Are we living our daily lives in such a way that we would want our children to follow our example?
- Are we using family dinner time as an opportunity for great family conversation?
- Are we, as teachers for our children paying attention to what our children are trying to tell us?
- Do we consistently show interest in our children’s day when we pick them up from school?
- Do we regularly check in with our children’s teachers to find out updates on our children, and do we use this information to start conversations with our children?
- Do we turn off the radio (TV, computer, cell phone) and truly listen when our children speak to us?
- Do we use the language of respect, not just with our children, but with everyone we interact with?
When we, parents, teachers and all the adults involved in our children’s lives work together and act in the best interest of our children, our children are free to develop their own path and their own future.