How do you model behavior that you want to teach infants and toddlers?

Answer

A parent can model the behavior that she wants her toddlers and children to exhibit by practicing what she preaches. When a parent's actions are synchronous with the principles she teaches her children, the children will learn appropriate behavior. Parents can model honesty, making healthy food choices and good manners, as well as demonstrating their values by how they spend their time and money.

Practicing honesty is important to help children learn the value of telling the truth. For instance, parents should not lie about their child's age to get a discounted fare at an amusement park or a cheaper meal at a restaurant, and then scold the child for telling a lie. Also, it is counterproductive to encourage a toddler to eat healthily, then eat cookies and other junk food in front of the child. If a parent wants her children to value education and art, it is essential that her sons and daughters see her reading literature and participating in creative pursuits.

Modeling appropriate social behavior also teaches children how to treat people well. When a parent loses her temper with her spouse, a waitress or an inconsiderate driver in front of her children, it sends the message that it is acceptable to yell or say harsh things to others during times of frustration. When a child sees this type of behavior, yet is instructed to get along with his siblings, the child can become confused.

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