Children Live What They Learn

A Personal Story

I remember when our middle child, Josh, was about two years old. He was an adorable little boy with clear, bright, blue eyes and a head full of blonde curly hair. Smart, too. He loved to play the piano and to play chess with his Daddy. While his skills weren't developed, he showed a strong inclination toward learning and was incredibly attentive to what was going on around him.

At the time, Sesame Street was rather new and all the rage with young mothers and their children. I thought it provided a lot of stimulation in terms of learning the alphabet, word recognition and other educational values. It also provided a cast of characters for a child to emulate.

One day Josh was talking to me in a rather unpleasant and grumpy tone. There did not appear to be any reason in particular for him to be in a bad mood, but it persisted throughout the morning. Finally, I asked him, "Who are you, Josh?" His response was, "I'm Oscar the Grouch." Now, he could have picked another character to emulate! That was the end of Sesame Street in our house. You may think I over-reacted by not allowing Josh to watch the most famous children's TV show going, but to this day I am glad I made the decision.

Doing What Comes Naturally

Emulation comes naturally to children and it is something they will do all through life. As adults, we may, consciously or subconsciously try to emulate someone we respect or honor. It is a praise-worthy thing when it is done with the right attitude and methods. Heroes are in short supply today, sadly, but when a child finds a true hero, he can be challenged to emulate someone with excellent values.

Parents Have More Input Than They Think

We can present our children with morals, behaviors, culture, and challenges to emulate which will enhance their lives and instill in them values for a solid future. Often, in a bid to "allow the child to be himself," he is deprived of the very things that will enhance his life. When your child is young, rather than exposing him to violent movies and computer games, you could spend time reading about real heroes. Choose movies that have the kind of values you want to see developed in your child. He will emulate what he sees, if he sees enough of it.

Picking Friends

Children often pick their friends according to who is most like the person they want to emulate. If the child's exposure has been toward strong values, trustworthiness and good morals, then his friends will exhibit the same traits. On the other hand, if his exposure has been to negative attributes, violence and dishonesty, he will gravitate to those who live that out in their lives.

Indeed, children live what they learn. It is up to us, as parents, to provide them with the kinds of traits to emulate that will make them strong, healthy young people.