I have heard this phrase numerous times and in various ways.
Put out the good you want to get back.
Show others how you want them to treat you.
Be the light in the world you want to see in the dark.
If you want your kid to behave a certain way, then model that behavior.
For the most part I didn’t think much about this phrase until I had kids. I am sure you have all noticed that the one thing a kid will mimic or copy from you is the one thing you do not want them to. The hands on their hips. The smart mouth come backs. The cuss words (for those who let them occasionally slip). Even the state of their bedroom is a reflection of yours. And it drives you nuts. They watch us and reflect what they see back.
One of my kids is a master procrastinator, everything can wait till later and nothing needs to be done right now. He can put off laundry, school work, and even taking a shower. Reading one page in a book he does not want to read can take literally all day and this drives me insane. This is one of my bad habits and I know it. Granted, I have greatly improved over the years, but he has seen enough of my procrastination to pick up on it.
Another kid of mine is bossy. She is a matter of fact, cut and dry, black or white type of thinking person and there is no wiggle room. She can be the sweetest person to other kids, turn around and snap at her brother for not doing a chore exactly right. She can help a friend reorganize and clean up their room but adamantly refuse to help her brother because “he should have stayed on top of his room.” Her bossy tone and general snappy remarks drive me up the wall and cause so many fights in the house. If I am honestly with myself, I know I tend to do the very same thing. On a small scale, I am a quiet person so not full volume as she does, but I do the same things.
My youngest is my messy room child. His version of putting something away in his room is to walk in the door, throw it into the middle of the room and walk back out. His task is done, time to move on to the next thing. He is constantly leaving things out around the house too. I cannot tell you how many times I have found a Lego creature of his left out, a coloring book laying around, or the last game he was playing with just sitting on the floor in a room. I cannot not believe he would just leave things laying around to be stepped on, that he would treat his things with such disregard ….. you probably should not looking my room right now. This one I have not gotten better at yet. I still walk in my room, toss something in, and walk right back out. “I don’t have the time” I tell myself.
... I need to make the time.
The fact of the matter is these little living creatures we created, are our carbon copies if you will. What ever we have done on the surface, they copy and show right back to us. We cannot stand these bad habits and behaviors because we have tried to Teach them better, but they need to be Shown better.
Two years ago I started my degree (again) and I have been working diligently. I am honest with my kids on how I feel about the school work. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes I would rather be doing anything else besides work on school work. Then I show them that I work on it anyway. I do not make a big show of this, I just sit down, say I have to work on my school for a while and I get it done. In the past two years, while I have been showing my kids my hard work with school and focus that I keep on it while I am working, I have noticed an improvement in my own kids’ work. They are staying on task more. They are doing better at showing me their best work the first time. They are not putting off school work as often. I have told them time and again what I expect from them, how I want their school work done and how there is no playing till it is done. I did not start seeing a noticeable change in their work until I modeled for them what I expected.
No, you do not need to go back to school to model the school behavior you want your children to show, but you can set aside time for mommy school. Either work on a reading list and a workbook to keep your mind fresh and active while they are working on theirs, or do it later on while they play. Either way they see you working diligently and purposefully. If I want my kids to do better keeping up with their rooms, I need to finish organizing my room and show them how I expect them to take care of theirs. If I want my daughter to speak to others better on a regular basis, I really need to get a full hold on my own tongue.
Despite our kids seeming like they do not pay attention to us, they are watching and they are showing us what they see. We need to show our children how to have the positive behaviors we want them to have. We need to show them how and not just tell them. I didn’t use to pay this phrase much attention, but now I constantly remind myself of this.
Be the change you wish to see in your children.