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Good Parenting Means Good Role Modeling
The old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do,” didn’t work in the past, and it certainly doesn’t work today, when kids are exposed to a myriad of ideas, styles, and limitless options they can try.
The term model was introduced by Robert K. Merton, a prominent American sociologist, best known for coining the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Merton asserts that individuals compare themselves to “reference groups” composed of people who occupy the social role to which the individual aspires. The term has come into general use to mean any person who sets an example. Eda LeShan, a family counselor and parenting author, asserts, “The only way to raise a decent human being is to be one.” Both of these observers are correct. What children become has to do with the example set by those who raise them. “Monkey see, monkey do.”
Konrad Z. Lorenz showed how geese hatched in the incubator would fixate on the first appropriate moving stimulus they saw within what he called a “critical period” of about 36 hours immediately after hatching. Affiliate imprinting is not limited to animals that are able to follow their parents. In child development, the term is used to refer to the process by which a baby learns who his/her mother and father are. The process is known as initiation in the womb, when the unborn baby begins to recognize the voices of its parents (Kisilevsky et al, 2003). This imprinting is further permeated as the child observes and experiences the parent’s behavior, habits, tone of voice, body language, etc.
Parents are the first model (reference group) that a child has. If you doubt the importance of teaching by example, think back to your childhood. How were you influenced to become the person you are – for better or for worse? Does what you learned in school have the biggest impact on your personality? Were your peers and other adults most influential? Were you more influenced by movies or television than your parents and family members? How does he look like his father? How are you like your mother? We often hear the comment “He married a woman like his mother”. “She married a man just like her father.” There is a reason why people make this poignant observation.
Parent role model:
– Social skills. Social skills and attitudes are taught by example. A child learns good manners more easily when “please” and “thank you” are part of everyday life.
– Respect for others. When parents show respect for each other, their children and others; Children learn to value themselves, other people and institutions.
– Do it yourself. Consistency between teaching and example is very important. If you want to teach your child a behavior, but you behave in a different or opposite way yourself, your child will become confused and frustrated about what to do and who to trust. To learn a behavior, you must model it. Famous child psychiatrist Fritz Redl lays out the three most important things you need to know about raising children: “Example, example, example.”
– Home environment. Children not only unconsciously imitate the behavior of their parents, but also absorb the general atmosphere of the home. A child who lives in a home filled with love, affection and cooperation can more easily show love, affection and cooperation to others.
– Positive approach. Focus on what your child is doing right. Reward good behavior and ignore or give consequences for unacceptable behavior. Threats and hitting only teach your child that violence (power) is acceptable.
Chicago News columnist Sydney J. Harris wrote, “When parents talk about discipline, they mean a rigid set of rules to prevent their children from misbehaving. But the only discipline worthy of the name lies in providing a framework solid of ideals – not for the Child to live in, but for the parents to live in. You can beat the children until they are black and blue, but that cannot make them better than the examples that see around them every day.”
– Teach instead of lectures:.Practice what you preach..Modeling is most effective when we talk about what we are doing and why. Explaining the importance of doing what’s right or that you share responsibility for making your community a better place to live and that’s why you go to meetings helps your children understand your reasoning and connect the activities yours with their behavior.
This does not mean that parents have to be perfect. We all sometimes lose our temper, say things we regret, aren’t as kind as we’d like to be, or do things we wish we hadn’t. It’s reassuring to know that it’s the general trend in our behavior that affects our children, not isolated instances of less-than-stellar behavior. We are human; so are our children. Being perfect is not a requirement. What is important is to admit your mistakes, apologize and stop the unacceptable behavior, and model how to correct your mistakes. ##
Robert K. Merton (July 4, 1910 – February 23, 2003) was an American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University. He is best known for coining the terms, “role model” and “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Konrad Z. Lorenz, PhD (1903-1989), Animal Psychologist did important work in the physiology of animal behavior and in the development of social relationships, especially in imprinting. He also explored the relationship between animal behavior and human sociology.
Barbara S. Kisilevsky, PhD, researches Effects of experience on fetal voice recognition. Psychological Science, 14, 220-224. Kisilevsky et al, 2003.
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