Our children, especially from the age zero to nine, imitate the things that adults do. They copy the actions, the manner of speaking, and even the feeling of the adults who surround them. Whether we like it or not, we teach them who we are. Not what we know.
It is engaging these days to observe my daughters Kasandra and Kyrstynne and the children in my class who are now in second grade. My daughters copy the intonation and the way that their grandmothers pray. When they reprimand someone, they copy the tone of my voice, and sometimes, of their guardian.
In the case of my students, there are times when I really want to laugh out loud when I hear them say things that I am sure they have copied from their parents. There was once when a child blurted a comment about the weather and when I turned to look, I really saw the perfect imitation of the child’s father. Although not in terms of the physical makeup because the child is the carbon copy of her mother but the nuances and the tone of her voice. I could not help but smile.
There are many times, when as a teacher, I observed how children copy the way their immediate authority speaks. This brings attention to our manner of speaking to the child. A child deserves to be spoken to softly and lovingly. Even when they are about to reach puberty stage, they still need that.
If your child is impolite when he speaks, you might want to observe how the adults speak around him. And you might want to make the adults understand why speaking softly is very important when a child is around. Of course, how can a child learn to speak softly if the ones he can imitate are often screaming and shouting.
On another note, be aware of blaming other people or yourself. We must understand that our behaviors were acquired from our immediate authority back when we were young. Maybe our parents did not know any better too, that they thought that the best way to instill values in us is to speak unkind words. Perhaps, our parents got it from the adults who surrounded them. So, there is no use of blaming others. But the buck stops here. We are now responsible for how the things may turn out. The ball is now in our hands and the things we want to change starts with us.
There is also no point in scolding the child for speaking harshly, scolding them might only aggravate the situation. There is no point in telling the child what you know, because they will not understand it yet. Their little minds are not yet capable of processing the highly intellectual information that you want to impart to them. The best way is to show them. Make them see how you try your best to speak softly to them, show them that you are in control of your emotions, and show them that because of them, you also want to grow better as a person, and that you are also practicing how it is to speak softly.
It will not be easy. It will take a lot of effort and mindfulness to our behavior. But our inner work will not only help our children as they grow. It will also nurture the inner self. By striving, we will also heal our inner child in the process.
Your child, on his end, will also copy your striving. And they will love it when he sees you how you try to grow yourself better for them. By doing so, words like ‘I love you’ will grow more tangible in his life.
Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan works as Nurturer at Tuburan Institute. For inquiries and comments, feel free to reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.