The child watches everything around him from birth. Anything we do and say gets locked away in their memory, indiscriminately. In her book, The Child in the Family, (1956) Montessori makes this point very clearly:
The child is sensitive and impressionable to such a degree that the adult ought to monitor everything he says and does, for everything is literally engraved in the child’s mind. (p 40)
It is for this reason that modeling appropriate behaviour becomes vital. The adults around children should become active role models, living out the values they want children to pick up. After all, children only mirror what they see around them. We can’t expect them to be positive, generous, peaceful people unless we model this ourselves.
As adults, self-reflection is key. It is often not just what we tell them, but also the body language and subtle cues which our children pick up. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves as parents and educators:
- Are you sharing constructive opinions and feedback? Are you being respectful in how you share feedback?
- Do you indulge in gossip or approach people directly?
- Do you tell little white lies to be polite?
- Do you express rage while driving, or with the household help?
- Do you use respectful language with everyone you interact with?
- Do you express opinions which you’re comfortable with your child repeating at school?
- Do you display trust and respect towards your child’s other caregivers, be it a co-parent, a nanny, or school?
- When watching TV or listening to music, are we making conscious choices to screen what is appropriate and beneficial for your child?
Are you living your daily life in a way you would want your child to?