Children model their parents and unconsciously use the same words and sentences for example, when reacting to challenging situations. I recall a situation when my son was seven years old. One day I went to pick him up from school and strangely, I noticed that he did not smile seeing me from a distance. I knew straight away that something was wrong. I tried not to think too much as I increased my steps. I became impatient to know what made him so gloomy. As I walked closer, I saw streaks of dried tears on his cheeks. I gave him space and time to calm down.
Suddenly he spoke and his tone was tense and anxious. He said, ‘Mummy, boys do not talk about their feelings because they have to be strong’. He went further to say that ‘Mummy I do not want to be seen as a girl’.
I followed his lead in the conversation. I was surprised by his statement as I always encourage my children to talk about their feelings. I knew the emotional and psychological damage caused when people bottle up their feelings. On the other hand, honestly speaking, I was not surprised with the overall notion of ‘talking about feelings’. From my personal and professional experiences, this topic is not discussed in many households. When children display unexpected behaviours, parents and others seem not to understand the root cause, rather they blame the children for misbehaving or seeking attention.
I acknowledged my son’s feelings and explored further. He explained how during playtime, children were mean and called him names. When he told them how he felt by the words they said, the children laughed at him. This made him to be more upset and he cried for most of the day. The children got the reaction they ‘wanted’. This became a cycle for the day and period prior to when my son learnt to stand up for himself. Eventually the bullying stopped.
It is said that we become ‘the product of our environment’. The primary source of learning is from our home environments. I decided to share my son’s experience because parents might not notice that their children learn from observations. They imitate the same behaviours as their parents when faced with challenges. If the action is successful, it will be repeated to reinforce the behaviour.
Thus, parents to be mindful of how they behave around their children and the words they say to their children and when the children are around. Parents use inappropriate language and negative words to address their children.
Think of how you would feel if someone else calls you by certain names that are demeaning. If you felt negative, just imagine that your children would feel the same.
When children behave in ways that parents, teachers, family members do not accept, to effectively deal with the situation, it is good to separate the children from the unacceptable behaviours.
To find out the STRATEGIES I used, send me a message and we will have a conversation.