No it’s not the CIA or FBI, the KGB or Mi5 – not that they aren’t already all watching you along with Google, Apple and Facebook. But it’s closer to home…..it’s your little kids. Their capacity to absorb and mimic everything you do is astonishing. It shows itself in the most random of time when they say a word you know only you commonly say. Or when they give you some sass and let you know that you don’t practice what you preach (i.e. you eat junk food all the time). It’s because they watch you and they will inevitably copy you.
My son has been actively trying to copy the way I sleep by putting his hand on his forehead (one of my quirks) so that he’s in the same sleeping position as I am. It’s also when he mimics my wife’s road rage, I noticed it when I drove him the other day and the body language and language was uncanny.
With that in mind it’s hard to be on the lookout all the time, I mean we’re already dealing with cyber security, “the man” watching us at all time, and now it’s the kids! Just because I didn’t have – or still have – a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean I don’t want my kids to have it, but how can I justify it to them?
This goes to even bigger things such as smoking, gambling and drinking – and although they may not show any sign of using right now, when they are at an age it will be second nature to them and without realising they will fall down the same path.
The important thing here is to be honest with them, let them know that what you are doing is not necessarily appropriate or right, and that you are working on it daily to change the habit (if you are sincerely doing so – otherwise they can see right through the B.S.).
It’s also important to explain to them why they shouldn’t be doing things, even if you are, like eating too many sweets, watching too much TV or swearing after every other word. They should be at least aware of the repercussions early on so they have it in the back of their minds when and if they decide to take that step into mimicking you – this takes away the glorification of these habits and takes away the rose-tinted view they have.
Ideally you wouldn’t be doing the things you don’t want your own kids to do – this includes things like treating people badly, not helping the elders, making fun of those that are different; they’re always watching all these nuances. But if you can’t the key is to be honest and forthcoming, maybe this will help you realise to change yourself – after all it’s hard justifying a certain expectation of your kids when you can’t even meet that expectation! This will also help you become more flexible in picking your battles – and not to nitpick on everything they do.