If you have children, what are your thoughts about how they learn from you?  So many of us think that children learn how to behave from our lectures and verbal teachings.  That’s only part of the story, though.  Our kids are always watching and listening, even when we have no idea that they are at all tuned in to what we’re doing!

If we want our children to be honest, kind, and respectful, it’s important that we’re honest, kind, and respectful — not just some of the time, to some of the people, but all of the time, to all of the people.  No matter what we tell them about how they should act, the behavior they see from us is going to carry a much more lasting and meaningful message.

If we want our children to listen to us, without interrupting, and to speak to us with respect, it’s important that we honor them in the same way.  Children learn what they live!  Treat them the way you want them to treat you — to treat others, and the chance are good that you will see them begin to model this very behavior.

We can still set limits and provide guidance, but we can do it with fairness, empathy, and patience.  Most kids want, and certainly need, us to be parents, not buddies.  Let’s provide them with role models worthy of emulating.  Let’s remember that we were once kids.  Let’s live our lives with integrity, according to the values that we want our kids to incorporate into their lives.  It’s the best way we can help them learn what we want them to learn.

Let’s do as we say!

Until next time,



  • I agree! Kids learn the most from how their parents behave and deal with situations. I think modeling the behavior you want really helps. I would love for my kids to learn to take breaks when they get mad or frustrated, so when I feel that way I model it for them. I let them know how I’m feeling and I go to my room for a little bit. I also think it’s good for kids to know their parents are not perfect, we make mistakes, and how we handle them and solve them is important for kids to see. If a child learns to be afraid to make mistakes, they will avoid taking on challenges.

    • Thank you, Linda Perkins! You gave a perfect example of teaching children to self-sooth, and calm down, when their emotions are running high. I talk with my clients a lot about the benefit of taking a “time-out,” rather than saying things they will regret later. I, also, love the idea of helping children learn that parents make mistakes, and that mistakes are a normal part of life. Mistakes are the main way most of us learn! Making mistakes is perfectly normal, and perfectly okay!!


  • So true! Children pattern their parents’ behavior. I think lots of us, maybe most of us, aren’t fully aware of our behavior much less its effect on others. Particularly children. This post is a good reminder to be mindful of our actions.

    • Thank you, Amy! It’s so true. Most of us aren’t aware of how much our behavior impacts our children. The more mindful we are of our actions, the more power we have to choose the behaviors we want to represent us, according to our values. We are our children’s first and greatest teachers!


  • Children soak it all up, and while what we say to do is important, it doesn’t soak in nearly as much as what they see us do. Children are excellent reflections of their parents, so it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re giving them something good to mirror.

    • Thank you, Calla! Actions do speak louder than words, don’t they? I like your point about making sure that we “give them something good to mirror.” We want to make a positive impression on our kids by the way we live our lives.


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