The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Two Kinds of Models

Friday, June 3, 2011

Two Kinds of Models

When adults interact with children, they are capable of being two kinds of models: 
  1. The positive role model - The adult who is kind, caring, respectful, and giving to others shows children that this behavior is acceptable.  The child looks up to that adult as a positive role model for his or her own behavior.  Conversely, the adult who yells, punishes, slaps, and demeans children shows them that violent and disrespectful behavior is acceptable.  It's no surprise that our children look to the adults in their lives for guidance on how to live their lives.  What kind of role model are you?
  2. The perfection model - This kind of model is less known but just as effective in molding children's behavior.  When a young child colors in a coloring book, he scribbles around, sometimes trying to stay in the lines, sometimes not.  All the while, however, he is simply exploring the medium.  He isn't trying to be perfect.  An adult who sits with that child and colors his own picture, staying in the lines and pointing out how this is preferable, is setting the child up for failure and discouragement. He can't live up to that standard. Modeling perfect art is a simple act, but very effective in showing children whether the parent approves or not. What can you do instead?  Explore the medium, as well.  Have fun molding clay into amorphous shapes, pounding it and rolling it.  When a child shows you her creation, comment on what you see, rather than what you like.  Example: "Look at what I made."  The parent can then say, "You did a great job of rolling your clay."  Less effective: "I like that log."  What's wrong with the last statement?  It might not be a log!  And the parent (or teacher) has equated the child's work with adult approval rather than acknowledgement of his or her diligence.  Do you model perfection or diligence in your children?

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