Learned Behavior

Tanya and I were at the mall and we went into Forever 21. As we were walking around she said “I remember being here with you before, and we were looking for the elevator, but I don’t remember why.” I reminded her it was because I had the kids with me in the double stroller and thus could not use the escalator. “Oh yeah! Your kids are so well behaved sometimes I don’t even notice they are there. I hope I get that kind of a kid.”

First of all, my kids certainly have their moments. By which I mean they can be little terrors. But yes, for the most part they are well behaved, quiet, and polite. Not to steal their thunder, but I think this has more to do with me than them. I have always thought a child’s behavior is reflection of the parent. I am not going to go as far as creating a dichotomy between “good” and “bad” parenting, but simply state that discipline comes from the parent, and behavior is indicative of said discipline. In other words, my kids know what they can and can’t get away with.

Of course there are those times when they are overly tired, or hungry, or something, and they just have an all out cry marathon regardless of where we are. But they are still very young and have difficulty controlling strong emotions. Nevertheless my daughter, who is now approaching three and a half, has started knowing better. She knows when she has a temper tantrum in public it is not alright. She also knows that if she has a temper tantrum in public we will leave immediately, and she will get a time out. Put these two things together and guess what you get? That right, less temper tantrums and more self control. My son is still a little too young, but he too is coming to understand that there are consequences for his actions. There are things we do, and there are things we don’t do. Period.

This does not mean that they will always get it right. This doesn’t mean I won’t give them hugs and kisses when they cry and try to make it better. I understand that some things can be overwhelming or frustrating for them. This does not mean that their individual personalities aren’t taken into consideration. But practice makes perfect. The more children are socialized, and realize what is appropriate, and what is unacceptable, the more prone they will be to get it right. Children want to please, especially their parents, so if they start understanding what type of behavior makes you happy, they will be more likely to do it. I am not going to go too much into the psychology or even methodology of this since there are numerous books out there, written by professionals, that outline this very issue, but I will say that behavior is learned. It takes time on your part, but the outcome is very much worth it.

 

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