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By the time your child is a pre-toddler (ages 12-18 months), you have no doubt noticed that your child is a little mimic. Your child will start to do some strange action over and over only for you to realize you do that same thing. Children do what the adults in their lives do. Often times this is magnified–some something small you do or say will be exaggerated by your child, making it more noticeable.
I remember when Kaitlyn was a pre-toddler. She started to have an obsession with pushing her long sleeves up. I thought it was quite odd for a child of her age. She did it so intentionally that I knew she had picked it up from someone. As I observed people around her, I quickly saw it was from my mom. My mom always pushed her sleeves up if she had long sleeves.
So what’s the point of this other than that it can be incredibly cute (or incredibly embarrassing at times)? “Beware now and in the future, when it comes to training, more is caught than taught, which means your example forms lasting impressions” (On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise page 117).
I love that–it is catchy. More is Caught Than Taught.
Your example is paramount. You can sit and have lessons on appropriate behavior, but your example will teach more than your words ever can. If you find your child’s behavior unacceptable, the first place to look is at yourself. Are you doing that behavior in some way?
The next place to look is at siblings. Younger siblings look to the older siblings and “catch” all of their behavior. Then look to other caretakers, family members, and friends. If your child is picking up bad habits from friends, you can minimize it by shortening exposure to the friends. Your child needs to learn to be able to be around friends without problems, but we all pick up on things from the people we are around.
Minding your example is the first step in correcting children. This is the preventative side of correction. The prevention side of correction is so much more powerful than the corrective side of prevention. Preventing problems takes a lot of work initially, but it makes life much easier in the long run.
I have written many times on example. Here are the posts:
- Accepting Personal Responsibility
- Teaching Virtue and the Importance of YOU
- Pre-Toddlers and Emotions
- It Starts With You
- Be a Good Sheep
- You Teach What You Are
And here are posts on prevention: