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Friday, July 15, 2011

Model of Behavior

As a parent I am aware, not all of the time, of my behavior when in the presence of my child.  What I do and what I say will alter her reality, her understanding, and her ability to express virtues in this world.  I fail at times and sometimes I succeed in small measure.  I don't ponder this to a level of immobilization or fear, but I check myself from time to time and many times ask, "Did she just replicate what I do?"  And my response to that question is either "Oh no." or "That's nice."

I wonder however, when parents start having difficulties with a child's behavior do they analyze themselves, their home environment, their words and deeds and ask, "How might these things contribute to reinforcing my child's undesirable behaviors and how they might contribute to reinforcing his/her desirable behaviors?"

If my child acts out inappropriately, then have I displayed that behavior as an adult?  Have I given permission, by deed, that acting out is commendable?  Do I expect respect, when the subtle actions I have with my child deem respecting them as unworthy of my time?

Please don't misunderstand me, I don't agree with the idea that my child is above me and should be treated as a spoiled princess having all things done for her at a moment's notice.  I do think though that she has a noble station and if I can show her respect by acknowledging her interests by commenting on a drawing as she requests, "Daddy, take a look at this" and just giving into the shared moment, then I will do it.  Also, I will respect her by asking her to wait patiently when I cannot be interrupted and then following through with recognizing her use of the virtue of patience when I am ready.

When she was younger, the time period she could wait without being frustrated was short but over time I have reinforced the display of patience from one minute to now many minutes.  This is one example of applying patience and caring.  Do I always excel at this?  No.  But I try to remind myself of my nobel nature and her's and the power of another virtue used so little by ourselves, for ourselves - forgiveness.

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