16 Feb Example is Power
Famous child psychiatrist Fritz Redl used to say to groups of parents: “Get out your paper and pencils. I am going to tell you the three most important things you will ever need to know about raising children.” Then he would say, “Example, example, example.”
If you’re a parent, I’ve bet you said “These kids should come with an instruction manual!”
I’ve definitely said that a time or two (or three, or four…).
But here’s the thing: If you SHOW them how to behave, if you SHOW them what’s important through YOUR actions, if you SHOW them how to treat others, if you SHOW them how to respect themselves by respecting YOURSELF, they will emulate you.
I can talk to my daughter all day, until I’m blue in the face, about how I expect her to act and treat others BUT I’ll bet you every single penny in my bank account (sorry Patrick) that what is MORE powerful than giving her lectures is SHOWING her how to be.
They are ALWAYS watching, ALWAYS listening, ALWAYS judging…look at the baby, look at the baby…(sorry, that’s from Old School…I digress).
But seriously, they will copy you. They want to be just like you!
It amazes me sometimes, the things my 4 ½ year old daughter picks up from me when I’m not even paying attention. The other day I came downstairs and found her lifting her little pink, 1 lb weights up in the air and she said to me, “Mommy, I’m doing my workout right now and then I can play.”
Another example – She said, “Mommy, I want apples and honey for a snack because I want to eat healthy like you and grow. I know it’s important to take care of my body.” (She seriously talks like that. She’s 4. It’s ridiculous).
And one more example – “A boy in my class was sad today because he missed his mommy. I went over to him, patted him on the back and told him that it’s okay because grownups come back.”
Being a parent is the most DIFFICULT and most REWARDING job I have ever had. One of my friends, who recently became a mom, said it best when she told me, “No one tells you how f—–g hard this is!”
And she’s right! They don’t. Because they can’t.
Because there are no words to describe how energy-draining, soul-sucking and exhausting it is! BUT there are also no words to describe how beautiful, wonderful, fulfilling and amazing it is to watch this little person that you created learn and grow.
Even though they most likely won’t remember them, the first 3-4 years of their life are the MOST important! Kind of crazy, huh – that the years they won’t even recall when they are adults are the most important?
But their first few years of life are the foundation of everything…of how they relate to others, of how they can expect to be treated, of how they learn to be in society, of how they form relationships.
How do they learn all that stuff? From you!
Just like me, I’m sure you want the absolute BEST for your children! You want them to be the BEST version of themselves they can be.
So, how do you achieve that? You lead by EXAMPLE! You LOVE yourself! You show love for OTHERS! You treat yourself – your mind and body- with respect. You show them that you are WORTH it.
Do I make mistakes when it comes to my kids (or any other aspect of my life)? Of course I do! I’m not perfect! I’m not a robot! I’m human! I get frustrated. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t always know the right answer.
But, I can say, with the utmost confidence, that today, I am the BEST version of myself. Tomorrow, I will be even better because I work at it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
And in turn, not only am I giving a gift to myself, but almost more importantly, I am giving a gift to my children. The gift of example. The gift of showing them that they can be ANYTHING they want to be and they can do ANYTHING they want to do.
Here are some excellent resources for your reading pleasure:
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