Do as I do, not as I say! Parents can be a postive influence in creating behavior.

Creating Behavior

"Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure."
Albert Bandura, 1997

As much as we would like to believe that our words are getting through, the reality of the situation is that our actions have a much bigger impact
on creating behavior.  Words say a lot - actions scream.  This is the reason it is of the utmost importance that we show our kids how to act.
It's not just a good idea there is a whole theory centered on it, developed by Albert Bandura in 1977, The Social Learning Teory is the most influential theory in child development.
The key to creating behavior in kids that parents want is:



Have you heard of the Bobo doll experiments?  

Young children, individually, were shown a video of a woman in a room with many toys, one of them a Bobo doll.  The woman picked up a mallet and hit the Bobo doll while speaking aggressively to the doll; she beat that Bobo doll up.  Later the children, one at a time where allowed to play in the room, with the Bobo doll, the mallet, and many other toys tea sets, balls , dart guns…  The result was that most of the children that were exposed to the aggressive video imitated the behavior, including the aggressive speaking. Click here to see the video.

Why is this important?

Children learn how to act from their parents!  

Have you ever seen your child imitating your behavior? Pretending to clean the house, drive the car, or cooking a meal, putting on your shoes, make-up… 

This list could go on forever, the point is have you ever seen your child using their play time to act like mommy or daddy?  

Creating Behavior Fact: 

Children learn how to be polite or impolite, hostel or friendly, unsympathetic or compassionate from their parents.  Children get their greatest lessons from incidental learning, which is watching how their parents conduct themselves in and out of the home.  These lessons shape their social and moral behavior.  

A lot of pressure?
This might seem like a lot of pressure, in fact some of you may be saying’... 
“Wow, I can’t make any mistakes. I have to be perfect all the time if I want to teach my child appropriate behavior.”

Well that’s just not true, in fact some of the most important lessons your child can learn are from watching you make  mistakes and then going back and correcting them. 

A mother was witnessed disciplining her 5 year old daughter, the same way the mother was disciplined as a child. She would speak in a very loud voice (yelling) and telling the child what they did was wrong “you were being rude, go to your room” (the rude that the mother was referring to was talking to her brother in am abrupt and loud manner, yelling).
That was the end of that interaction, until the mother called the child out of the room and asked her if she had thought about what she did. The little girl answered “yes, I am sorry I was rude.” However, later that day the little girl was being annoyed by her brother, she was observed telling her little brother in a loud voice (yelling) that he was rude and she was going to tell her mother.

A few questions to consider:
  • From the child’s reaction to her little brother what do you think she actually learned? 

  • Did she learn what she did wrong was inappropriate  behavior, or what rude meant?

  • Where do you think this behavior was learned in the first place? 

  • If her mother speaks abruptly when she is doing something inappropriate where is she going to learn the appropriate way to speak to her brother, peers , or adults?

  • Are we even sure that she understands the word rude? or just that it causes trouble and perhaps if she says her brother was rude that he will get in trouble as well.

  • If she truly understood that rude was referring to her yelling then why was she yelling rude at her brother, did she think this was what was appropriate because she saw her mother demonstrating the exact same behavior?



Return from Creating Behavior to Creative Parenting