Muttering a curse word here and there around adults is no big deal, but once children come into the picture, you need to remember that your every word or action becomes part of their learning.
Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook; it’s on-the-job-training and many mistakes are made along the way. When you hear the words ‘bad habits’, you immediately think of excessive drinking, smoking cigarettes around children, but the moment kids are involved, even vices you once deemed innocent can be problematic.
Consider the following everyday habits that you and your partner need to drop!
How often do you say something bad about yourself? ‘I’m so stupid!’ or ‘I just feel so fat today!’ Yes, we all have moments when we don’t feel good about ourselves, but reserve the harsh self-judgements for when your children are out of earshot. Your children will build their own healthy self-esteem based on how they see mommy and daddy talk about their own body, weight, or traits. Be positive in front of your children.
Stop Being A Grown-Up Meany
Try hard to refrain from joining in on the gossip session with the soccer moms, and don’t become that dad that curses the coach or the umpire at sports matches. Allowing your kids to see you speak in a negative way about another parent, child or teacher, will lead to think that this is acceptable behaviour, when it clearly is not.
When it comes to technology or gadgets, every family has their own rules. But when was the last time you spent the whole weekend with your family – without any smart phone or tablet glued to anyone’s hand? If you can’t put your phone down for just a minute, it will be very hard to tell your children that they aren’t allowed to do the same.
Living Through The Lens
Take fewer pictures and participate more. This doesn’t mean that you should always leave your camera behind. You will always want to capture special moments, but memories can be more important, especially for children. It won’t help to show them photos a few years down the line if they don’t remember the hugs and cuddles they received when they were younger.
Cursing Like A Sailor
The occasional curse word might slip through your lips – but you can’t think that this is acceptable because your baby can’t talk yet. Don’t be surprised then if their first word isn’t ‘dada’ but rather ‘f*ck’. Toddlers are impressionable and known to imitate what everyone around them does. They also delight in repeating things mommy and daddy do at the most inappropriate times. You don’t want your tot to be punished for cursing on the playground at school.
All parents want to protect their children, but life happens. You can make every effort to protect your child from dangers, but micro-managing their environment is not realistic. You can child-proof their environment to keep them safe, but you cannot control their thoughts and actions while they are growing up. This could result in a rebellious, resentful child. Establish realistic, age-appropriate boundaries and allow your child to push them – this is part of growing up. Emphasise consequences for actions, and reinforce the concept of punishing the sin, not the sinner.