Kids May Not Be Listening BUT They are Watching!

As parents/educators, we want the best for our children/students. We teach them to act in a way that we believe will make them happier and more successful.

Children learn best by watching us. They see us as the example of what to do and what not to do. Observing how we approach challenges, how we talk about ourselves and others, and how we handle tough emotions influences their choices.

Our actions speak louder than our words.

We can’t expect children to be different than what they have learned from watching us over and over, despite what we may tell them.

Here are some messages we want children to learn and put into action but sometimes we unintentionally send the opposite messages.

1. Learn to Love Compliments

A 2017 study found that whether a person can receive a compliment or not is often a good reflection of their self esteem and self worth.

While being able to accept compliments isn’t the magic bullet to confidence, it does teach children to see and appreciate their own good qualities and successes. ‘

We want young people to be confident and accept a compliment graciously. However, many adults have been known to receive a compliment and respond with ‘No I’m not.’ When children/students hear and see this as a way to respond to a thoughtful compliment, it teaches them to do the same.

Next time you receive a compliment, practice accepting it. Be gracious and say thank you and be conscious that your body language is open, rather than closed and guarded.

When children hear and see this as a way to respond to a thoughtful compliment it teaches them to do the same.

2. Push Your Comfort Zones

We want children to speak up, be brave, and tell themselves and others that THEY ARE ENOUGH and THEY MATTER, especially when they are faced with challenges.

At my presentations, when I ask adults to say “I MATTER”, it takes a couple of rounds to get people to say it like they mean it. Most feel anxious and embarrassed, not wanting to stand out or look silly. Would you shout it out the way you would encourage a child to or would you sit quietly feeling anxious and silly?

By not allowing ourselves to step outside our comfort zones, we are teaching children that staying within their comfort zone is the best way to live.

Enrolling children in new activities and adventures stretches their learning in positive ways. It teaches them that it’s OK to be nervous and embarrassed and that they don’t have to allow emotions to stop them from being brave and adventurous.

Pushing comfort zones in a safe way and being determined to put in the effort, helps reduce the fear of the unknown and develops courage and resilience.

3. Keep It Kind

We don’t want kids to be disrespected, teased, or be the centre of gossip. We want them to be inclusive, friendly, and respectful. And we want them to receive that from others.

When they see or hear us gossiping about others – colleagues, family members, friends – we teach them that it’s ok.

Gossip is powerful. It changes perceptions and behaviours. It stops people from being open and accepting about who they are. It creates an environment of fear and shame. Gossip is cruel because it isolates the person being talked about and judges them as unworthy of respect.

People often gossip as a way to build bonds. Instead of talking about other people, look for other ways to connect. If someone is trying to gossip with you let them know you don’t feel comfortable with the conversation, leave the conversation, or redirect the conversation to a new topic. This teaches children that what you say about others and yourself matters.

4. Identify and Share Your Emotions

Did you know the most common lie told is ‘I’m fine’?

Have you ever had a child look at you and ask if there is something wrong? Not wanting to burden them, you say ‘I’m fine’, even though you’re not.

And one day, because you know something’s up, you ask them ‘Are you ok?’ and because they don’t want to burden you, they say ‘I’m fine.’ Who are they learning that from?

Students, including my son Kai, have told me that they would prefer the adults in their life name their emotions instead of just reacting out of them or saying ‘I’m fine.’

If you are having trouble naming your emotions, use the “Elephant in The Room” poster.

By sharing your true feelings, you help teach children to do the same. It also teaches them to reach out if they are experiencing anxiety, depression or worry.

Nobody Is Perfect

Being a positive role model isn’t about being perfect. It’s about being conscious of the choices you are making and whether the messages you are sending, are the ones you want them to get.

Until next time!

Sara Signature