Remember when you were a kid and your parents were fighting? Remember when you were a kid and you had a problem but you would not share the situation with an adult dealing with it the best you could on your own? Now, think about your children and what is going on with them. Who are they reaching for when they need help? Who are they reaching for when they are scared? It should be you. Is it?
Children require constant guidance from people who love them offering patience, concern, affection, and hope. Without that sense of direction and affection, children will swerve to other less desirable directions for affection and hope. Research shows that children when left to their own resources watch a considerable amount of television, even more than an hour a day, are overweight, can act out aggressively, more so than peers who view less television, and are more sexually promiscuous when they view seductive or sexually explicit television shows. This means they have found a way to "belong," and it is through eating, acting mean, or acting sexualized. We can only expect our children to be acting in the way they have been taught. We must be more aware just what it is that our children are engaging with day in and day out. Is it us or something else?
Should you allow your child to view promiscuous TV shows? Should you allow your child to overeat? It depends not so much on what you say, but what you do. When you get out and exercise, do you take the child with you? Do you want your child to hold the same basic beliefs as you. If so, you must include the child in your activities. Your child will certainly be exposed to alternative environments, and he will usually choose "yours" over "theirs" if you are a supportive parent. Everything that happens to your child can be talked about. Inquiring about what has happened today, "just after lunch," or "…just before school" will often elicit a response that will be something you can discuss with your child. As long as you engage regularly with your child. Your input may make the difference in how your child uses that tidbit of information now and later.
Plus, remember that your child will be taking his home out with him into the environment. The child who chases the peer at school after he lost the tetherball game will be acting much the same way he viewed a parent who acts out angrily at home. More often than not, our children reenact the behavior they have observed us doing at school or on the street. The child who attempts to cheat may have heard about his parents scheming in how they can avoid having to pay all their income taxes or observed one parent lying to a neighbor. The child who curses or bullies has likely seen that behavior at home and is acting out a part of the adult at home. What we do as parents makes it acceptable for our children to do it.
The parent who allows the child to run into the street should not become mad when the child does it. We need to recognize that we allow our children to act a certain way due to our actions or inactions. Rather than exclaim to a child that"…You can't do that," we can explain to a child where the cars are, how fast they go, how it might feel to get hurt, and suggest they stay with you to stay safe. Verbalizing the situation to your child allows the child to incorporate verbal information with pictures of the world and then make better decisions. Next, when the situation arises again, ask the child, "What do you think you should do when we are getting out of the car?" Allow the child to respond, perhaps he can tell you to stay out of the street because "It's not safe." The more you engage with your child, the more you are able to teach. The more you speak with your child in a compassionate and loving manner, the more he is able to process with you and thus learn. That will help with his childhood perspective.