When my kids were little, a few incidences showed me how strongly my behaviour shapes their behaviour. Noticing it made me realise just how conscious I have to be about what I say and what I do because they pretty much copy us. Their behaviours and the comments they make can be an in-your-face mirror of what you say and how you sound. Now they’re older I still see it but many times I manage to tell myself stories to explain away the things they are doing as not mine somehow – even though they are. When they are little, it’s more ‘in your face’ and harder to justify to yourself.
Two small moments stand out for me.
When my younger son was two he whacked his big brother with something. In response his big brother picked up a large cushion and lifted it up baseball bat style readying himself to give an almighty whack right back. My little one flinched and threw up his hands to protect himself and shouted out in a panicked voice, “No! I too busy!” His big brother burst out laughing and dropped the cushion rolling around on the ground clutching his tummy and shrieking with mirth. I also found it very funny but because of this quirky event, I was left with the realization that according to my two year old, his parents were apparently shirking anything scary or unpleasant by saying they are too busy. Hmmmm… food for thought.
I was exhausted one day and enjoying a precious moment of rest while my baby was sleeping so when I heard him wake and knowing the run was about to start again, I groaned “Oh no. He’s awake”. On another day when we heard him wake I heard my older boy say “Oh no, he’s awake!” Ooops! His behaviour was as good as him saying to me, “Hey mom, look at what you’re doing.”
After that I deliberately I changed my response. When I heard the crying summons I would enthusiastically call out “Yay! He’s awake!” – even though I wasn’t necessarily feeling that way. Within a day or two his older brother was telling me, “Yay, mama, he’s awake!” I’m pretty sure he also had those mixed feelings … But this was a startling reminder for me of how very easily we shape our children. On the bright side, it also showed me how wonderfully easy it is to change a direction when you don’t like where it’s going. You just need to change your own behaviour.
What behaviours can you see your children using that are copies of yours?
Are you ok with them?