This photo was taken using the photo booth application on my iMac, but it illustrates my point so well.
If I expect Lizzie to do something or refrain from certain behavior, I must model it for her. “Do as I say and not as I do” simply does not work for children. Period.
I have a really great example that happened tonight. I was making the bed and my amazing 2 year old helper came to pull the blanket and straighten the sheets with mommy. Every time she pulled a corner correctly I said, “Thank you Lizzie!” Well about 5 minutes into making the bed there was silence as she was concentrating on getting the blanket nice and straight. I pulled it up from the top and she was on the bottom. When it was nice and neat she said in her pretty sing-song voice, “Thanks mommy!” Not being prompted, her simple two words made my heart swell! Genuine gratitude, from a two year old!
Our children are mirror images of ourselves. There are so many days when I don’t have structure. It is chaotic, to say the least. What really wakes me up is when Lizzie will get frustrated and act out. But if I am cheerful, peaceful and run the day in a (mostly) organized manner she is cheerful, agreeable and helps her brother.
Another fun example of the mirroring is a bedtime one. I was trying to get her into her pajamas and get into bed when she kept say, “Izzie stay awake?” I turned to her and said, “no! Now Lizzie get your pj’s on. You must obey me!” Her response was to run to the bedroom, look out the doorway and say, “Obey me!” Wow. I don’t think she quite understood what “obey me” meant. I obviously was handling it all wrong and using terms that went over her head. So instead I explained to her, “get your PJs on or you will get timeout. It is bedtime.”
Kids pick up on so much that we adults do. And it only gets worse as they get older. That is why I am trying so hard right now.