Parenting is one of the hardest jobs anyone can have. It has many fulfilling moments but can also be stressful and draining.

As a therapist, I see that some parents become so consumed with meeting their child’s basic needs that they don’t focus on their emotional needs. They put a roof over their heads and food on the table but scream on a regular basis, dismiss the child when they try to speak to them and forget that their child has a voice they should be listening to.

Parents also forget that children are sponges and will mimic everything that happens in their home and what their parents do. For example, if you curse and are physically and verbally aggressive, it is very likely that your child will pick up those behaviors.

It’s essential to be mindful of your own behaviors and how they affect your child.  Children are also ridiculed for their behaviors but what about parents and their unacceptable behaviors? Here’s a few things to consider regarding modeling appropriate behaviors for your child.

Stop telling kids you being disrespectful is okay because you’re grown.

I’ve frequently seen children tell their parents that they have seen them behave in the same way that they get penalized for. The classic problematic response is “I can do that because I’m grown!” Wrong. When a child watches you scream, be rude, belligerent and disrespectful to people, you are showing them that it is acceptable to communicate in that manner and to treat people that way. Being an adult doesn’t mean that you are free to just disregard people’s feelings, lack self-control, be impolite and ill-mannered. Parents, you are your child’s number one teacher. Children are watching the way you behave so it’s crucial that you are aware of your own behavior while trying to modify your child’s.

Speak to children the way you want them to speak to you and others.

I’ve heard many parents complain about the way their child speaks to them and other authority figures. They often don’t realize that their child is mimicking the way that they speak. Children learn how to communicate at home, therefore whatever communication style exists in the home, it will affect the way the communicate outside of the home. Sometimes, children don’t like the way the parents speak to them, so they don’t speak to them at all. I’ve seen parents be hostile and condescending and wonder then why their child won’t speak to them about their feelings. It is important to evaluate how you carry yourself as well as how you speak to your child so you can understand what kind of behaviors and habits you are promoting and encouraging as well as how it is affecting you building a relationship with them.

Stop rationalizing your behavior when your child tells you it hurts them.

Many parents speak to their children aggressively and then justify it. They don’t consider that when they rationalize their behavior, they are dismissing the fact that the child said they are hurting their feelings. Don’t their feelings matter too? Just because they are children it doesn’t mean that they don’t feel. Parents can sometimes be very resistant to change because they don’t want to admit that they also behave in a problematic manner and are contributing to the issue their child is having. It is important to model taking responsibility for your behavior and as well as implementing change so your child can learn to do the same.


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