It’s true. I model bad behavior in front of my kids. And before you choose to start judging me, I have my reasons, so listen up! When making an honest mistake, like getting annoyed when someone cuts me in line, or when a car doesn’t wait their turn at the 4-way stop. It is how you handle and overcome the behavior that really matters. Hear me out.
The other day I was driving with my toddler and 8-month old in the back seat. We were leaving the park, which happens to have a 4 way stop to leave. It was my turn, but another car decided they couldn’t wait any longer and went out in front of me. This annoyed me to no end. (So, a little secret about me is that one of my pet peeves is not cutting people whether you’re in line on a plane or in the store. So I felt as if this car was “stealing my time” I started to mumble words underneath my breath and sort of stuck my hand out in annoyance. My two year old asked what was wrong. I told him that I was upset that a car took my place in line. He immediately said in his cute toddler voice “It’s okay, Mommy”. This immediately was a wake-up call to me that he was watching how I reacted to a situation that made me mad. I told him, he was right. It was okay to feel frustrated, but I needed to realize that it was a small problem, not a big problem, and move on. We had a brief discussion about how we handle our frustrations. We both decided I should “fill my bubble” (which in our house it’s the same thing as taking a deep breath). After that, I returned to my happy self talking to my toddler about what we had just experienced at the nature center.
Another situation arose a few months later when someone made a rude remark to me. I was angrily telling my husband about the situation and looked over to see my toddler listening intently. I immediately changed my tune, started to talk about forgiving the person, and how what they said just upset me. My son asked me what was wrong, seeing I was visibly upset. I realized in that moment I needed to model the correct way to tell this story, but still express my emotions more calmly.
So, something to think about. How do you handle your emotions? Do you handle them how you expect your two year old to handle them? I just realized that something so insignificant made me upset to my core and I yelled about it, how can I expect my two-year-old to control his emotions when something he perceives as a big deal, rocks his emotional state, like him getting a red cup over a green cup. To us, as adults, we can’t even imagine why a toddler would get mad about that, but in their eyes, it’s a big deal.
I know you already know this, but your kids are always watching. They are watching to learn. They are watching how to behave. They are watching how to love. So make sure you’re modeling the real side of getting upset, mad, excited, and so on to show your children the correct way to respond to those situations. I learned the more they see me handle and model the correct behaviors, the more they are going to be able to practice themselves and see benefit in it.
I laugh because, as a teacher, I model ALL DAY LONG. But do we model behaviors enough? How do children view us on our tough days? Do they see us throw a tizzy fit and give up? No, we persevere.