Children learn so much by observing their parents. Oftentimes more than we want them too. And like most parents, I am guilty of saying the equivalent of "do as I say not as I do" a bit too often. This conversation has come up with a few times the past week in regards to voting and going to the doctor. These are important things my child needs to see me do so he sees that I place value on them.
In the spirit of walking the walk instead of just talking the talk, I have compiled a list of seven important things my son should learn by watching me do them regularly.
Right now we are struggling with the transition to chapter books. He insists, "I already KNOW how to read, I don't need to practice anymore." We are already doing a myriad of things to help him redevelop a love of reading. And one of the most important is to see Mom and Dad read for pleasure. The last time we went to the library I let him choose which books I checked out (I showed him four and told him to pick two for me). Then he saw me read them. I didn't need to tell him reading is fun, I showed him.
Politics was a big deal in my house growing up. It was discussed ad infinitum. I still get the shakes thinking about it sometimes, just kidding (-ish). The political discussion in our house now consists of me informing my husband that the election stuff is in the bathroom and asking if he wants me to mail his ballot. Yes, I put stuff I want my husband and son to read in the bathroom (thanks to my mother-in-law for that brilliant tip).
We are permanent mail-in voters, so my son may not actually go into a polling place with me to vote like I did a few times with my parents. But, he will see me complete the ballot and help me mail it. He will know that we do not consider voting an option. I will never tell him who to vote for or probably even tell him who I voted for. But, he needs to see me do my research and vote accordingly.
Our son often sees us give of our time, talent and treasure to other people. I volunteer in his classroom. I have him help me bake for school bake sales or special treats for the teachers and other special people. We have him help when it is time to gather up goods we no longer use to give to various charity drives.
He sees us hold the door for people, let "wheels go first" (walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, etc.), pick up mail and take care of pets for vacationing neighbors, let people with only a few things take cuts in front of our full grocery cart, and all of those other little things that make life a bit nicer for our fellow man.
He needs to understand that we believe God has given us many blessings and we need to share from our bounty as a way to thank Him (awesome homily last week, Father James!)
Practice my faith
J just celebrated his First Reconciliation and begins preparation for First Communion in August. We are his primary teachers in our faith. He needs to see us participating in weekly Sunday liturgy, going to confession, receiving communion, praying, etc. Otherwise all of the Religious Education lessons are just lip service.
Take care of my health
I do fairly well with the first 4, but now is when I begin to slip.
If I take him to the doctor and dentist for regular check ups, I should go to. He needs to see me eat healthy and exercise if I am going to expect him to do the same. No staying up late reading or playing Words With Friends and being tired and cranky the next day if I expect him to go to bed on time and sleep through the night.
Deal with Frustration
We both need to work on this area. I can be verbally abusive to my computer at times when it doesn't do what I want it to do as fast as I want it to. J sees that and doesn't understand why he can't cry and scream when the video game doesn't go his way. OOOPS! I need to work on stepping back, taking a deep breath and asking what can I do differently to get the desired outcome. He needs to see that everyone gets frustrated when things don't come easily but we need to calmly work our way through it.
Moms, we've been hearing this a lot lately, haven't we? Put on a swimsuit and get in the water, get in the picture, put the camera/phone/computer away and be present with my family. But how many of us still aren't doing this enough?
I need to forget about the never ending to do list for a little while and just spend time with him. Sure there is a time for work, and he definitely sees us work. But he also needs us to play too. He needs to see us smile and be happy.
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Your turn. What actions are important for your child to learn be seeing you do them?