It’s a cool and breezy day in February which means ‘tis the season of the Dubai Shopping Festival – a one month event where families from around the world come to the UAE to take advantage of the perfect weather, shopping, and outdoor festivities (jazz, carnivals, etc.).
Beyond shopping, what I love about this time of year is seeing so many families outside interacting with one another and, in general, having a good time. As part of my research, I find it so fascinating to observe family dynamics across a broad range of cultures and backgrounds. In particular, I am always amazed that regardless of country of origin, children find interesting and unexpected ways to mimic their parents for better, or as I witnessed recently, for worse…
Yesterday, while at the mall, I saw a parent being extremely rude to a store clerk right in front of her child. Throughout the whole episode, I noticed the child starting to take on the demeanor of her mother reminding me of the video, “Children See. Children Do.” – a campaign released in 2006 by NAPCAN for a “child friendly Australia”.
“Children See. Children Do” is such a powerful campaign because it reminds us just how influential we are as parents when it comes to our children’s outlook and actions. Most of us can probably remember trying on our mother’s lipstick and high heals as a child or shouting at the television screen during a football match as a teen with our father. Similarly, our children, both consciously and unconsciously, find ways to imitate us in ways we’d never imagine – the way we walk, our accents, our taste in food…
One of my personal philosophies is that children should become what they want to and that they are not our extensions. That said, inevitably, whether we like it or not, elements of ourselves will be reflected in our sons and daughters. If we tell our children not to lie, but then turn around and say “Don’t tell grandma…” Or, if we shout at a store clerk and then turn around and say to our children not to shout, what message does that send?
Positive modeling is a very powerful tool for parents and one of the most effective means through which children learn. Think about the behaviors and habits you want your children to do at home. Are you modeling them? How so?
Note: The image above is by Audrey Zhukov and is made available under the CC Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License.
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