My father worked as a chaplain in a nursing home. I often volunteered there on Sundays. One Sunday, while walking down the hall, a patient said, “You walk just like your father.”
My daughter came home from college to tell a story about combing her hair (don’t worry, there’s a point). As she adjusted her bangs, she realized (much to her dismay) that she was adjusting her bangs “exactly like my dad does!”
The point is: children imitate their parents. They don’t even try. They just do it. From the mundane to the exceptional, the subtle to the obvious, children imitate their parents. What parent hasn’t experienced their four-year-old saying something at the most inopportune moment that highlights their keen observation skills and unparalleled ability to imitate our behaviors? We often tell funny and embarrassing stories about such moments; but, why not use this phenomenon to our advantage? If our children are going to be copy cats, why not give them something good to copy? For instance, I would love it if the copy cats in my house would copy these behaviors.
- Thanking the person who prepared the food and complimenting them about something they prepared.
- Saying a prayer before each meal and at bedtime.
- Turning off the TV, video game, or social media and giving your full attention to your spouse, child, or parent when they talk to us.
- Offering sincere compliments to your spouse, children, and parents.
- Laughing often.
- Practicing polite acts of kindness such as holding the door open for other people.
- Offering to get another person a snack or drink.
- Rinsing your dish and putting it in the dishwasher. Unloading the dishwasher without complaining.
- Doing every household chore with a smile and a sense of gratitude.
- Treating cashiers, clerks, wait staff, and others with polite respect.
- Calmly discussing what upsets you rather than “flying off the handle” or “freaking out.”
- Trying something new like a new food or a new activity.
- Really listening.
- Stopping to smell the roses, watching the sunset, listening to the music, or some other activity in which you appreciate beauty. Sharing it with your family.
That’s 14 behaviors the little copy cats can copy all they want! But, that does mean we have to practice them. What other behaviors do you want your little copy cats to copy?