“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” – W.E.B. Dubois
I love this quote and it is an important reminder for me as I can tend to talk a bit too much sometimes.
When it really comes down to it, my kids are learning from how I act every day… not just what we talk about or do together, no matter how wonderful those conversations or activities may be.
I have been experimenting lately with being more mindful of the small interactions I have with my kids – concentrating more on how I respond to them versus what I actually say. I have also been trying to take note of the behaviours my kids are displaying that may have been learned from me (like saying “in a minute” when requested to do something).
It has created an interesting dynamic shift, and is something I’m going to continue thinking about and working on.
To progress my growth in this area, I have written a list of ways to teach character through actions instead of words. I hope it may be useful to some of you, as well:
– Show your kids that what they say is important to you by kneeling down and looking your child in the eyes when they speak to you
– Respect your child’s desire for independence by giving non-verbal cues when directives are needed, like holding out a hand to cross the road (instead of verbalising an instruction)
– Show respect for your friends and partner by speaking kindly to them and about them
– When you are tempted to shout, take some deep breaths and plan a peaceful response instead
– Be an example of the type of eater you want your child to be… no more cookies for kids means no more cookies for mama, too! (Please tell me I’m not alone on needing to work on this one?!)
– Follow through with your commitments and make an effort to be on time! If you are always apologising for not getting things done or being late, your kids will likely follow suit
– Take your child’s complaints seriously, even if they don’t seem like a “big deal” to you. Take time to empathise and really try to understand where they are coming from
– Care for yourself by eating healthy foods, exercising, and making time to meet your own personal needs
– Respond to your own friends’ challenges with action… if they are sick, take a plate of food over; if they have an appointment, offer to watch the kids so they can go on their own
– If your child has a lot of toys to pick up, help out! Create an atmosphere in the home that “we all help each other”
– Express thankfulness for the little things your child does to help around the house or make others happy
– Openly appreciate the small gifts in life, such as a beautiful sunset or a nice meal, by saying it out loud
– Be generous with saying “thank you” to people who help you out… like to the clerk at the store or a waitress in a restaurant
– Freely forgive your child for hurtful words or actions – give them the example of what true forgiveness means
– Ask for forgiveness when you use unkind words or do something on accident that hurts your child (like throw away a favourite paper airplane, whoops!)
Kids learn so much just by seeing what is going on around them. They are watching what we do 100% of the time. Let’s give them something positive to emulate, shall we?
Do you have an example of a time when talking was not necessary to convey a lesson on practicing good character? How do you teach kids character through actions instead of words?
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I agree that children learn quicker through action rather than words. I am always careful to make sure my behaviour corresponds with how I would want my children to act.