When we become parents there’s no instruction booklet on how to become perfect role models 24/7. After all, we’re still only human.
All children are shaped and formed by good and bad experiences. I was just reading an article about what issues most affect children. Apparently it’s dissension between parents and money worries.
Children apparently also have very highly attuned BS detectors, so you won’t get away with trying to cover it up!
Our attitude and actions around food shapes our children’s understanding of food. We often place a higher value on our children getting good nutrition, than on feeding ourselves well. So children may quite rightly perceive this as a double standard.
Have you ever found yourself trying to talk a child into eating a vegetable that you yourself detested as a child? A few years ago Nestlé research showed that many parents hide a secret stash of chocolate to tuck into when the kids are out of sight. And how many of us (after ensuring the kids eat well) revert to a pizza delivery for our own dinner more often than we’d like to admit?
Recent research in the US indicates that adult shoppers most often refer to the Nutrition Facts Panel on food products when the food in question has been requested by a child – but not when it’s requested by another adult.
Not only do children pick up on things – they remember them. Nine months ago our family had a serious car accident. Our two year old (who was in the car at the time) hasn’t ever said much about the accident. So I was surprised when she said to a near stranger just this week: “our car had a smash and Mummy and Daddy were covered in blood”.
This won’t come as any surprise to child psychologists, or to most parents when they sit down and really think about it. But when parents are going through stressful times themselves they often find themselves doing or saying things that they’re not particularly proud of. I’m not talking smacking, or verbal abuse, but perhaps simply raising our voices, over-reacting or doing quite the opposite of what we expect our children to do.
Nobody’s perfect, but being a great role model as a parent is about facing up to the tough things in life and achieving a positive balance which supports kids with real and meaningful actions – not just words.
Being a good role model is certainly not easy, but it undoubtedly pays countless dividends well into the future, probably in more ways than we know. For me, it’s still a work in progress!