Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Bhagat Singh, Suu kyi are all great leaders that changed the course of history. We teach our kids about them so that they can learn and get inspired by these great minds.
For a toddler though, we are the greatest person she has ever met. She looks up to us. Gets inspired us. Wants to be like us. Copies us.
Whether its our daughters applying our lipstick so that she becomes mommy or ours sons quietly trying to wear dad’s pants to become like daddy, our kids want to be us.
Hence, the example we set our kids at the tender toddler age will go a long way in shaping the person that s/he becomes coz
“We are our kids’ Gandhi!”
Setting an example is the best and easiest way of parenting I have discovered.
You want your kid to wear her hair in a particular way, just put your hair up together like that and there are 99% chances that that’s the hairstyle your DD wants to do also.
How much our kid’s look up to us is also brought out in some adverse ways too. Using the F word in public is just a manifestation of how he constantly hears you, sees you and observes every word that comes out of your mouth.
So when you have such an efficient photocopier with you, why not use it to your advantage.
Here are a few things I taught my DD by sheer way of setting an example. I never sat down and taught them to her. I just made sure I do these tasks in front of her everyday and she just picked them up on the way:
Wearing own clothes– I would wear my socks in front of her and then “Magically” her socks would appear in front of her…and she would copy me too. Of course I would come in for wearing the tees coz that’s just too much to expect from a 3 year old. But slowly, in piece meals, she will learn that too. Again by the sheer power of setting an example.
Wear a certain type of dress– There are innumerable examples of how mothers feel helpless at this difficult toddler age where your kids are too old to force yourself onto them and too young to be driven by logic. They end up wanting to wear some really strange things sometimes (I have attended a wedding where my daughter was wearing her night pyjamas) Yet sometimes you can use this “setting example” technique to nonchalantly slip in what you want your kid to wear. For example, in Delhi we have a huge dengue scare right now that is caused by a mosquito bite and wearing full sleeves clothes and full pyjamas/jeans is almost mandatory for kids. What I do is end up wearing full sleeves clothes too so that my daughter wears them too when she goes to the park to play. I never tell her or force her, but just by doing it myself, I am “inspiring” her to be like mommy!
Evil Mind control technique, did you say?
Eating: We all know that fussy eaters eat best when in a group of kids. They just seem to eat due to competition. When my daughter eats, I serve myself the same things too (in tiny quantities in case that’s not what I really want for dinner myself) and sit in front of her and eat those things. Of course a dramatic visual drama of how yummy the food is and how I would eat the whole house if it were made of it helps in getting your kid in the same mood.
Doing small tasks which she cant figure out on her own: Toddler age is very frustrating actually. For your toddler actually. So many tasks she cant seem to do. So many things she cant explain in words. Aaargghhh.
And add to it an omnipresent mother who jumps in at every small obstacle to help you out. That’s even more irritating.
So when I find my baby stuck at a task, I usually help her out by doing that task in front of her.
For example, a few days back my daughter had bought a baby sewing kit. Those pretend play ones. Now she was having a little problem in threading that woolen thread in the big plastic needle of hers. I could see that she was planning to give up after a few unsuccessful tries. So I took out my own kit, and dipped the tip of the thread in water and pulled it to make it a little tight and rigid. It then easily went into my needle. She saw me do that and tried that too with her thread and it worked!
If I had intervened and TOLD her what to do, she would have resisted the bossing and probably got more frustrated.
Hence its sometimes better to be quiet and let her observe and learn instead of jumping in with a set of instructions you spell out for an already confused frustrated little mind.
These are just a few examples to put the point across about the power of “teaching through example.”
Whichever aspects you are struggling to teach your kid you could think of how you can get the point across by doing it yourself and letting your LO observe.
Remember, you are your child’s hero. Use it for your advantage while it lasts!