Be the Example.
“Do As I Say, Not As I Do” is a pretty famous saying and it’s always made parents feel a bit better spouting it out to their kids, because ‘obviously’ the things that mums and dads say to their children should be listened to and followed to the letter.
However, that isn’t how parenting works.
We try really hard as parents to hide away our weaknesses, or our problem areas, but with the increase of children with depression, and obesity, and weight issues, I wonder if they are seeing and noticing our ‘stuff’ with way more interest than we realize.
The reason I mention depression, obesity, and weight, is because all of these things can be exacerbated in children by confusion, anxiety, and misunderstanding their own personality while also misreading their parents personality.
I’ll explain what I mean.
A child’s personality is made up of a lot of things, but the areas I focus on are ‘how they get their Energy’, ‘how they take in information’, ‘how they make decisions’ and ‘how they like their world structured’.
The areas of concern around “Do As I Say, Not As I Do’ come down to how kids take in, and trust information, and then how they make their internal decisions around that information.
When parents give confusing signals to kids, it can really mess up the way that SOME kids see themselves. Each personality type has different ways that information can filter through, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but when wires get crossed and confused, kids don’t know if they should trust what their internal instinct is telling them, or they should go against that and trust what their parents are saying.
If this happens too often, then we are creating a disability in our children in their ability to read situations, and in trusting themselves, which can lead to feelings of depression, sadness, and anxiety in kids.
You can come back from this but it takes work and commitment.
What I want to say is that it is better to BE THE EXAMPLE, and live true to YOUR personality, so that your children get to see that what you say and do both match.
The problem is that there are still problem areas that we are all working through internally, but I would be careful about being ‘too honest’ about these in front of your kids, particularly the issues related to weight, or food, or body image. Children won’t fully understand these thoughts, and they can’t rationalize them, this goes for relationship problems too. The adult problems should be left as adult problems.
It’s not about lying about them, but it is about sensoring yourself, and not over sharing in a way that can be misunderstood.
But they will still come across these things – so it’s about making the home the safe place, where these issues are just NOT there, AND about there being the ability to have the honest conversations about weight, food and body image, if they come up.
It needs to be honest though.
So, if you go on and on about your tummy, but then when the conversation comes up with your daughter, and you have to explain that she’s not fat, or she doesn’t have a problem, or that she shouldn’t try to attain that ultra skinny look, then you need to know that she HAS heard all the things that you’ve said about your body. And if adults say that your daughter looks like you as a compliment, then you can start to get some really serious mixed messages, and confusing lies, because it’s really hard for kids to understand it all.
And again I come back to this…
BE THE EXAMPLE that you want your kids to see, to attain to, to be proud of, to aspire to be like.
BE THE EXAMPLE of the mum or dad, that you want your child to have, so that they have the best opportunity.
BE THE EXAMPLE in the way you talk and the things that you talk about.
BE THE EXAMPLE of how to treat people, and how to be a good friend, or a good sister, or a good neighbour.
BE THE EXAMPLE in everything you do.
You can ABSOLUTELY be the parent that you want to be, and it starts with you!
Stephanie Davis is the leading expert in ‘Parenting by Personality’ and coaches mums in how to raise KICKARSE and SUCCESSFUL children by using Personality to find solutions to parenting problems.