I watch my three year-old love on her teddy bear. She rocks him, cuddles him, and sings to him. She tells him stories and speaks tenderly to him. She will chat with him for two hours in her bedroom at naptime. She even threw him a birthday party one day. (Lots of friends attended. Lots of singing.)
She shows the love to her little sister too. She will show her books, share her toys, and attempt to get her lil sis to take a walk around the house with her.
So dear…she is learning to nurture and love.
And…she also scolds. Raises her voice. Yells. She shows frustration. Impatience.
The exact lines I say to her are repeated to Teddy Bear or her little sis. The exact tone and frustration level.
I am seeing her mimic my reactions. My words. And I see what I can look like as a parent. Or more accurately I hear what I can sound like.
Actions speak louder than words and so on. You hear it all the time, but I don’t think I fully understood until I had children. They pick up on everything. The good and the bad.
Roll your eyes at your spouse? They see it.
Gossip about your neighbors? They hear it.
The poor attitude? They learn it.
How you react when frustrated? They watch it.
Show immense impatience towards the grocery store cashier? The one that cannot see that you have a full cart, two small children on the verge and they are happy to have a conversation with the person in front of you. How dare they be polite and chat, when you clearly need to be out of the store now. Or 10 minutes ago. And you still have to check out, get the kids out to the car, unpack the cart, get home, unpack the car, get kiddos their lunch before they fold…and the cashier wants to take her sweet time. Doesn’t she see the look? The please “hurry up” plea? (Nope. Never been there.) That impatience? They see it.
What are your actions teaching your children?
I am constantly focusing on how I react to each and every situation I face each day. I fall short, but continue to try. Why? I know character must be modeled. She is watching and picking up on my every move. On my every word.
If you are worrying and panicking in a stressful situation, pray to the Lord for help. Teach your children to go to Him in prayer.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6
If you see someone in need, help them. Teach your children to be compassionate. Teach them to serve.
If you are blessed by someone, thank them. Teach your children gratitude.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. – I Chronicles 16:34
If you make a mistake, admit your wrongdoing and apologize. Teach your children to seek forgiveness.
If gossip gets out of hand, stop it. Teach your children kindness and love.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:35
If someone compliments you, be humble. Teach your children humility.
If you have success at work, thank God for blessing you. Teach your children thankfulness.
If you are tempted to tell a lie, don’t. Teach your children honesty.
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. – Proverbs 20:7
If you find yourself struggling with enjoyment in your job, continue to work hard. Teach your children a strong work ethic.
If you find yourself following the evils of this world, pull yourself out. Teach your children whom they should follow.
Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them: For their heart devises violence, And their lips talk of troublemaking. – Proverbs 24:1-2
Our time and money is not our own. Be faithful stewards. Teach your children to serve. Teach them about joyful giving.
There is so much that we can teach our children without even using our words.
Obviously, conversation around our actions is beneficial. Essential. But remember that even when you aren’t talking and sharing a life lesson, you are still teaching.