Model the “Golden Rule” at home
Children learn from watching and practicing, whether it’s baseball, violin or cooking. Last week I wrote about this from the perspective of modeling. Your kids are watching you and learning from your words and actions. Which means we want to be aware and intentional about what we are teaching our kids.
Does this mean we are charged with modeling “correct” behavior 100% of the time? Heavens no! But it is a good reminder that we are always one of our children’s teachers, whether we are officially homeschooling or not.
One of the biggest concerns I’m hearing is about the lack of socialization for our kids due to COVID. On the one hand, I join in this concern. On the other, I know that what we model is teaching our kids the social skills they need once they are back with their peers.
In an article in The Atlantic, Dr. Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician who directs Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child said, “The most important thing that all children need is a sense of safety. The younger you are, the more that sense of safety comes from adults who care for you.” The article also mentioned that “children—especially young children—are surprisingly resilient as long as they have at least one supportive adult in their life. Preschoolers and kids in the early elementary years need their parents more than they need their friends.”
I can’t remember where I heard it but the test of someone’s true character is where they leave their shopping cart and how they treat a waiter in a restaurant. Both of these exemplify how we are always teaching our children, whether we intend to or not.
With a lack of peer socialization, it is easy to be concerned about the impact on our children. However, how we treat others is a perfect opportunity to help our kids learn the valuable social skills they need.
Ways to model social skills
- Invite your kids to join you when you brainstorm ways to help others. Whether it’s baking muffins for a neighbor, dropping off cans for a food drive or writing a thank you note, have your kids witness and take part in thinking about others.
- When the mail is delivered or the Amazon delivery person leaves a package and you are outside playing, make sure you thank them. Model the manners you expect your kids to use.
- Speak to your kids and other family members with the tone and language you want your kids to use. In line with it not making sense to spank your kid for hitting, it doesn’t make sense to yell across the house and expect your children not to yell.
- Show empathy for yourself. Verbalize aloud so your children can hear how you talk to yourself when met with a challenge. Validate your own feelings aloud – I’m frustrated. I need to get a drink of water – which is the perfect way to model what you want your kids to do as well.
- Show empathy for your kids. Validate, validate, validate. Keener doesn’t typically nap but decided to take one yesterday. I woke him up and he was in a state… Having been in a similar state myself recently due to a lack of sleep, I tried to really empathize and think about what would be helpful. I’m here. You’re safe. You’re loved. I want to help you when you’re ready. I’d love to read you a book or scratch your back if that appeals.
Remembering that when our kids have big emotions, we need to validate them and treat them the way we want to be treated. That is, after all, the “Golden Rule.” Model this at home and you will be giving your kids the key to successful socialization.