As parents, hubby and I are often trying to teach the children about the consequences of their actions. Lately, Aristotle returned the lesson to me and reminded me of the power of “Monkey See, Monkey Do”…
Boys being boys, Hercules, and occasionally Aristotle, often do things that can lead to them hurting themselves. Having lost my patience playing the broken record of telling them not to do these things, I adopted the attitude that if they wanted to ignore my warnings, don’t come crying to me when they get hurt because I warned them. Yes, it wasn’t the best of my ideas because it has had some unpleasant repercussions.
I have been a bad example for Aristotle. Recently, Hercules fell off a chair and bumped his head while I was vacuuming in another room. Over the noise of the vacuum cleaner, I couldn’t hear him crying. However, Aristotle, who was in the same room as Hercules, could, but instead of running to tell me that Hercules was hurt, he pointedly ignored him and continued about his own business.
It was only when I stopped the vacuum cleaner to shift some furniture that I heard Hercules and I ran to see what the matter was. After attending to Hercules (who luckily wasn’t really hurt), I asked Aristotle why he didn’t alert me and he replied, “Hercules was being silly on the chair and that’s why he fell and bumped his head on the cupboard.” In other words, Hercules was being silly and hurt himself as a result so it’s his fault and I’m not going to tend to him if he insists on doing silly things like that.
I felt a stab in my heart when he said it because Aristotle has always been a kind and caring child who notices when others are hurt and usually tries to help out. This has been his nature since he was too young to even know how to help so to hear this change in him because he was merely copying my actions was a real blow to me.
Obviously, as an adult, I would never have ignored the boys when they are hurt. I would always check to make sure the boys were okay before deciding whether it was “safe” to ignore them. However, Aristotle would not have known this and was merely behaving the way he thought I would have so it was my fault that he ignored his brother in pain.
This isn’t the first time I have noticed Aristotle copying my reactions but it has made me sit up and take notice of how I deal with things. If I don’t like to see my child behaving in a particular manner, I have to make sure that I do not react the same way in a similar situation. “Monkey See, Monkey Do” – it’s straight forward and very practical advice, however, implementation is never quite as simple.
If there is one thing that being a parent has taught me, it has taught me to become a better person. Being one of the most important role models to my children, it is important for me to be the best that I can be. Behaviours I could get away with before I became a parent are no longer acceptable.
Thankfully, I have never subscribed to the parenting school of thought that a parent must always be right, even when wrong, so it is okay for me to admit to my children when I have made mistakes. I hope that it teaches them that no one is infallible and that when we are wrong, we need to admit to it.