One of the best or worst attributes, depending on the situation, of children, is their uncanny ability to learn through imitation. Imitation is learned by a child from a very early age. We’re hard coded, in our brains, to imitate behavior. It is by imitation that we learn proper behavior, how to take care of ourselves, increase our skills, and communicate with other people.
A baby watches its parents intently. Eventually the child will pattern their beliefs and behaviors from you. They will have learned these things by watching and imitating you. What you do becomes embedded, as images, permanently, into their brains. These impressions will be responsible for shaping their attitudes, preferences, behaviors, and beliefs for the rest of their lives
It’s absolutely critical we be reliable, responsible, and caring when dealing with our child. It’s just as imperative we relate the same way to our spouse or significant other, parents, friends, neighbors, other relatives, or anyone, who is in our and our child’s lives. Always admit to mistakes when you make them and always deal with family members openly and honestly.
Ensuring we are properly taking good care of ourselves is also important. As a parent, it’s often easy to forget about ourselves because we are focusing too intently on our child and everyone else in the family. Families have an inter dependency that is linked through physical and emotional needs. It is important that you take care of your own physical and emotional needs as well as everyone else’s. By doing so, you’re teaching your child that it’s just as important to love yourself, and take care of yourself, as it is to love the rest of your family.
In order to take care of yourself, you should consider getting someone to watch your child so you can go out to dinner and a movie, or go dancing, or whatever activity you like to engage in. By doing so, you are showing your child that you’re not just a parent. You are demonstrating that you have interests and needs as a person also. It gives your child an opportunity to have to get along without you for a short period of time. This will help promote independence and self reliance.
As mentioned, carrying on a happy, healthy, relationship with your spouse or significant other is also invaluable. It’s a great learning experience to allow your child to see you communicating openly and honestly in a healthy manner with one another. It’s important they see the love and affection that exists between you. This will help set the foundation early on, for what a healthy relationship should be like for them.
Your child will learn through imitation. Whether they learn good behavior or bad behavior will be up to you, by the example you set. Make sure the words you speak and the actions you take will be ones that you don’t mind your child imitating, and ones which will help allow them to feel a strong sense of security and self esteem.