Monkey see, monkey do is probably the phrase that best exemplifies our kids’ actions/habits in relation to ours. The phrase “Practice what you preach”, has been drummed into us all our lives. However actually putting this belief into practice requires serious consistency. Let me go on record as saying that I hate the word. Being consistent at anything is not child’s play.
There are many small tasks that we were taught as children that were deemed necessary . How necessary they are is debatable, but as well-behaved children we will not buck tradition.
For me, that necessary evil is making the bed every morning. I am the kind of person who will write three thousand word essays, conduct a teleconference and pay my bills online, from the comfort of my bed. No it is not a distraction, no I don’t fall asleep. Contrary to the norm, I concentrate best when I am extremely comfortable, thus my think tank is my bed. The natural thought pattern is, if I am going back into my bed/office, why bother to make it up?
Therein lies my dilemma. I hate making up my bed in the morning. The truth is 95% of the time I don’t. Yet I expect my sons to make up theirs every morning. We have been having this conversation for months until the task even found its way onto their weekly goal boards. Even then it could not become a habit. Until my precocious 7 year-old told me one day that maybe I should put making up my bed on my goal board because I was having the same problem.
The solution – practice what you preach
As parents, we spend countless hours worrying about the fact that our kids are not listening, when in fact we should be worried that they are constantly watching. Albert Einstein said that, ‘Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.’ This statement from my son prompted me to think about what other undesirable habits I had on display. The list was embarrassingly long — eating in my room, chronic procrastination, tardiness and so much more. This was the behavior that I was modeling. Did I then have the moral authority to demand that they be on time and not procrastinate? Was it a case of do what I say and not what I do?
Needless to say, bed-making made its way onto my goal board. Was it an easy adjustment? No it wasn’t and I still don’t see it as a necessity. What I did see however, is that I was not the only one making my bed up in the morning. There are now three well-made beds in the house. It was a lesson well learned.
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