If you don’t believe me, sit in on a preschool classroom. If three little girls are playing house and skipping in circles, holding their babies and one is in the floor playing with blocks….give it two minutes. The majority action reigns supreme.
Children’s actions, in large part, are learned. They are modeled. If a child is talking back, hitting, defying orders, yelling “no!” incessantly, testing out foul language, not sharing, being selfish…..
They are picking it up somewhere.
Obviously, some actions (because we are born sinners) are inherent and flow out of our tendency (as humans) to push the limits and see what we can get away with.
But most are learned.
I remember 4 years into my stint as director of the kids program at our church, I had a mom come to me at her wits end. Her daughter had bad manners, was disobeying constantly, had adopted a potty mouth and was becoming unbearable. “What do I DO?!?!” she asked.
I decided against my first response, “Ever mix in a swat?” (another post for another time).
Instead, knowing her family and personal situation, I offered something I knew would work.
“Fix the older siblings, the TV, her playmates and yourself and you will have a solved problem”.
A little presumptuous coming from a 23 year old with no children, I know. All I was armed with was a college education and several years experiance.
But within that education and during those years of sitting, playing and observing kids, I had learned:
Kids are learning their behavior’s DAILY. Somewhere. If it isn’t from you, its from a sibling, kid at school, teacher, playgroup, Dora the Explorer, music, DVD’s.
Choose wisely what your kid soaks up.
I write about this because, last night, this was perfected by an imperfect parent.
I learned a lesson.
I met a friend for dinner/dessert and when I walked in, I found her on the phone. Not like her. She would be ready (early) and sitting there, waiting to talk and armed with a hug. She looked slightly overtaken with an emotion that I couldn’t figure out. Nothing bad, just distracted. So I sat with her and she concluded her conversation.
My friend is a mother of 5. Kids ranging in age from 9 and younger.
And as she spoke, I heard her apologizing. See, there were some actions that had lead to her becoming angry with her kids before she left to meet me. A string of events that had caused her to shout. Not a righteous anger.
A down and dirty, ugly anger.
And I witnessed a mom, modeling behavior.
“Micah, I wanted to apologize for yelling at you before I left. It was wrong and I was sinning. I know you understand why I was mad, but it was wrong and God wasn’t pleased with me. Im sorry I chose that. Will you forgive me?”
She then apologized to each of the kids, individually.
Each time, modeling behavior.