My entire life I’ve heard so many adults tell kids, “Do as I say and not as I do.” I guess I understand the intention of this saying, however, it actually makes no sense.
We say we want our children to make better decisions than we made growing up. Who’s going to teach them if you never learned how to master the same things you’re telling your child to do? The school system? Another adult? A friend? Who knows?
Saying Is Not Teaching
Telling my daughter to stop eating so many sweets, clean up after herself, be positive, read more or be patient does not teach her how to do these things. Nor does it teach her how to redirect her behavior or habits.
She most definitely can’t learn from me if I also need to stop doing the same thing myself, but I just don’t know how.
If I’m constantly telling her to stop doing things I can’t stop myself, I am failing her as a mother. I’m giving her a destination to reach, but no direction on how to get there.
What I Do Now
For the things that I think are important for her to learn or good habits to have, I stopped telling her over and over again to do them. I tell her maybe once or ten times (she’s 7 lol), then after that, I start doing the thing I want her to do.
For example: I was on her for months about reading and practicing so she can get better. She wasn’t trying to hear all that. However, I began to read more myself, just because it was something I enjoyed doing and wanted to get back to doing. I had no intention of “leading by example”.
I’m not sure of the time frame, but one day while I was sitting down reading alone, she came and sat next to me and started reading her own book! I acknowledged her actions and then kept reading. She will now pick up a book on her own and read by herself.
Don’t get me wrong, my daughter really does her best to listen to the things we teach her and does her best to implement new things. First off, she’s a child, so of course this is way easier said than done.
Think about it: if it’s hard for you as an adult to break a habit, how do you think it is for a child to break one without anyone to teach them otherwise?
Start With You
If this sounds like you and you can relate but don’t know where to begin, figure out the things you can improve on for yourself and start making changes. Our children are watching our each and every move; they can pick up on the slightest change and will notice it. We think our kids aren’t watching, but they are.
Each and every day our children have a front row seat on how to be or NOT be as a human being. It’s time to be the parent your child deserves, and the only true way to do that is leading by example.
Lastly, it’s NEVER too late to change your behavior and you’re never too old!
Name something you wish your parents would have done differently when raising you.
What are you doing or will do differently as a parent today?