Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Importance Of Modeling

by Gaetane Borders

Recently, someone sent me a comic strip that had been circulating on Facebook. It was succinct, and implied that a parent’s poor influence could very well lead to teen pregnancy. What was more interesting to me were the responses that the images prompted. You can only imagine how heated the online debates were. Some believed that the comic strip was overly harsh towards parents. However, others adamantly stressed that the major cause of the acting out behaviors observed with our youth are because the adults in their lives are a bad influence.

Research scientists have said that much of what children learn during their formative years occurs as a result of imitation. Modeling is the term that is commonly used to describe this phenomenon. With a barrage of negative imagery displayed in movies, television, as well as in society as a whole, it may be confusing to many why all children do not act out. Although many children idolize movie and sport stars, the fact remains that parents have greater influence on their children.

Numerous notable individuals have theorized about the importance of parenting throughout the centuries. For instance, a psychologist named John Bowlby was the first to study the issue of attachment, and described it as a “…lasting psychological connectedness between human beings." He believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a significant impact that continues throughout life. The central theme of attachment theory is that mothers who are available and responsive to their infant’s needs establish a sense of security. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.

There is no doubt that a parent’s influence has a perceivable impact on children. However, often parents fail to realize how their day to day actions affect their children.

Good modeling means that you are using your words and actions as examples to show your beliefs, values, and attitudes in action for your child every day. As a model, you do not want to say one thing but then do another because this will, without a doubt, confuse your child. Children will not do what the parent says, instead they will do what the parents have modeled. As a parent, you want your words and actions to mirror each other. For example, it is not only important that you tell your children that you value education and that school is important. You must take an active part in their education by being involved, and spending time to review their homework, and being visible in their schools.

If one wants to know what message they are sending to their child, they can begin by analyzing their own behaviors. Look closely at how you handle emotions such as anger and love. Do you slam doors when you get upset, or swear? Are you able to show affection? Can you listen without judgment, or do you frequently put others down? It is likely that your children cope with these emotions the same way that you do. Make certain to be the person you want your children to be because they are watching, learning…and imitating.

Gaétane F. Borders is President of Peas In Their Pods, an organization that helps to spread awareness about missing children of color. She has dedicated her life to helping families and children, and is a noted child advocate. Gaétane often lends her expertise to various media outlets such as CBS, CNN, and FOX. In addition, she frequently contributes to magazines and newspapers.

Previous articles by Gaetane Borders on Time's Up! CLICK HERE

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