One of the things that you realize quickly as a parent (or maybe you don’t) is that like it or not your kids have a high probability of becoming mini versions of you. I know that it is by no means an absolute and personality differences play a HUGE role, but overall they become you. They take in the good and the bad. They model what they see and how they are treated its pure nature.
I read an article recently about how freaking awesome French parents are (sigh…). As I read the article it became clear that the main point of take-away from this article was not that the French were special but that the parents respected their kids and treated them like adults. Such an important fact that so many parents (including myself) forget often. First off, kids are not adults and they do need boundaries. That said, there are many practical ways in which this plays out day to day. A good place to start for me is always the things that my kids do that cause me heartburn…
Kids grabbing toys right from their siblings hands and causing a colossal meltdown? Next time you go to intervene in an argument like this what is the first thing you do? Likely you snatch that toy from whoever has it while you bring about justice. Boom, behavior reinforced. Often you will find yourself doing the snatch-from-the-hand in other areas as well. Why? Well its just easier. On top of that it exerts your authority as well as ensure some warped justice by ensuring no one has the object before a decision is made. The hard way is rationally trying to sort it out before resorting to the sometimes needed action of swift justice. Sometimes toddlers are just irrational and cannot be dealt with rationally, however more often than not the knee-jerk reaction only reinforces a bad behavior.
Another huge one is yelling. This one is a bit more obvious but oh so easy to justify. Its an arms race when it comes to yelling, the more one side odes it the more the other has to “one up” them. You end up trying to yell over each other whenever there is even a hint of argument. Yelling is easy. It is much harder to calm yourself and explain what the issue is and then deal with it as needed.
I have found that one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent is that it shows you who you really are and how you handle things. It is exactly the reason why I think that being a parent is good for society as a whole, it creates selfless people. However like most lessons, you get out what you put in, taking the easy road is not nearly as affective.
Source: 2 Cent Dad