Modeling bad behavior

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Big Kids, Tweens, Teens

Kids learn by example, which is why most of us try to set a good one. We use our manners, clean up after ourselves, exhibit patience and always try to do the right thing - especially when little eyes are watching us. But sometimes, we get stressed out and tired and just can't be bothered doing the right thing. And by 'us', I mean 'me', of course.

I realized yesterday that I have been doing such a good job of modeling good behavior that when I slack off a bit, my seven-year-old notices big time. The slacking off happened in K-Mart, which was the last of many stops Ellie and I had to make on our way to the bank. I was worried about the bank closing before I could get there, so we sped through the store looking for folding chairs and a card table. We found what we needed and were headed for the checkout when I spotted something I'd missed on the way in: a card table and chair set, for a fraction of what I was about to pay for them separately.

I quickly took the individual pieces out of my cart and loaded the boxed set in. I hesitated. The department from which I had picked up the table and chairs was way in the back of the store. I was two feet from the checkout. Ordinarily, I would have schlepped the stuff back to where I got it, but this time I didn't feel like I had time. And this is no excuse, but the entire store was a jumbled mess anyway. Which is probably why I didn't notice the table and chairs set in the first place. I left the discarded purchases where they didn't belong, made my purchase, and left the store.

I heard about it all the way to the bank and all the way home. "I can't believe you just left that stuff there!" Ellie's shock at my total disregard for proper store etiquette made me think of all the times I do the right thing. I return my cart to the proper area in the parking lot. I allow other drivers to get in front of me when they ask. I pick up trash if I see some lying on the ground. I consider myself a pretty decent person, but I can't say for sure that I would always do these things if she wasn't watching me. Her presence in my life makes me much more aware of the things I do and therefore an all-around better person. How about you? Has being a parent made you a better person? Or were you always as wonderful as you are today?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.