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Hot Topic: Kids learn their behavior from you, parents, how are you doing?

Kris Hey • Jun 4, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Kids learn their behavior from you, parents, how are you doing?

By Kris Hey

Orlando Sentinel


In my house we don’t yell unless we are goofing off.

We also don’t allow words we consider offensive such as retarded, fat, ugly and stupid or criticism of others. I believe there are better, kinder adjectives to describe people when needed, but most times we just say that is the way people were made.

“No yelling in anger” is probably my most important house rule. Creating a safe, comfortable, loving home for our son has always been my goal as a mother, and if other people don’t behave as they should they’re not welcome in our house. I have zero tolerance for bad behavior.

That said, I sometimes display bad behavior. I know, you are surprised and confused, but I am human. I cuss in traffic or in the living room once in a while, especially while watching “Breaking Bad,” and I do and say things I shouldn’t in front of my son. But when I make a mistake, I tell him I was wrong, and I say sorry. I say I shouldn’t have said or done that, and I ask him what can I do to make things better.

I believe, and probably most therapists would agree, it’s essential for a child’s mental and emotional development to grow up in an environment where parents can admit they are wrong; feelings and emotions are allowed to be freely discussed and expressed; tough questions are OK for a child to ask and should be answered if they are age-appropriate, and children should always know they can trust their parents. My son knows he can tell me anything, even if it might be hard for me to hear or could make me feel a bit guilty. Like when he says, “I need more time with you, Mom.”

I listen, and I make the time. It’s my job and my pleasure. I adore my son and want to give him everything I can, including my time, while he still wants to be with me. He’s 10, and I know our years are numbered and friends will come take my place when he’s older.

Our children learn how to behave and to treat others based on how we, as parents, act toward them and others. It’s our job to build up our kids, be firm when we need to, shelter them from our own baggage and arguments with spouses. If we use negative words and talk smack about others, what are we teaching our kids?

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