However, the idea presented here is not alien, nor is it groundbreaking. The notion of confusion in infants is often hinted to in research, although it can be underlined more clearly. If we take what we know about children, we should realise that kids learn not from the constant hammering in of information, but from observing adults going about in their lives. If you are giving an instruction which is contradicting to your very behaviours, do not expect the child to be clear. Your parenting will be confusing to the child. Imagine a parent who has a habit of emphasising the morality against lying, but then lies according to need. What is the lesson there?
So if you wish to teach your child the ‘’right’’ way, show it to him. In his very interesting book, Liedloff speaks of communities who adopt a natural pose towards parenting. They never show exaggerations; neither in admonishing children, nor in praising them. They simply go about their day as normally as they know; and in the meantime children follow and imitate. Again, this only suggests that children are innately social. If you accept the implication that your child will copy your behaviour as he assumes it is right, and that is what will satisfy you as a parent, then the way forward is slightly simpler. With punishments, the expectation is that the child will not behave. Trust your child a bit more and challenge yourself to expect them to do what is appropriate. This does not mean that they will not occasionally go out of line. Children need also to learn from mistakes. However, this means that your parenting must be clear and easy going. Stress is plentiful in our life. Try to diminish it from your relationship with your child. Chasing learning activities may not be as fruitful as spending time looking at mommy folding clothes or daddy washing the cars. Invest mainly in your behaviour as you are the model for your child. What you do becomes their line of reference. So if you show your child what should be done, and expect him to do it, you are well in the way of helping your child to evolve strongly.
– Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness. He offers parent coaching and social work sessions. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.