My son observes everything. He has gone to the bathroom and tried to put deodorant of his dad on his armpits. No one taught him to do that, but he picked it up from observing his daddy. He likes to wear our shoes, he tries to type on our computer, he likes to try what we do… There are many things that Joshua has imitated from us… and many times its from him watching and emulating what we do.
This can be both good and bad. Good because family values are passed on. Bad too, because bad habits of parents can also be copied! I am more aware of my actions because I have a pair of eyes just watching my every move. Action does speak louder than words. Our children are aware if we lie with our lips and because our actions do not match what we say. We cannot preach and expect our child to get it. We need to model it.
When have been teaching Joshua that everytime he receives something, especially when he asks, to say “thank you”. In the Philippines we are fortunate to have baby sitters/nannies to help us. Joshua has learned to ask for his milk at the age of 15-16 months. So everytime he asks for his milk and his nanny gives it, we tell him to say “thank you”. We also teach him that if we ask him to do something, like throw his own diaper in the diaper bin, we tell him “thank you”. We say “thank you” to each other alot at home. That is why, now that he is two years old, he says “thank you” on his own even when we don’t prompt him to say it. Although, from time to time we do have to remind him when he forgets. The attitude of gratitude is so important to be taught and this can be taught really early.
At home, we also have been teaching Joshua to say “please”. It is like an endearment when asking a favor from someone. When he wants something, we tell him he has to say, “please”. When he likes to play with a toy like his play doh… often he would say “I want play doh”. So we tell him, “Joshua, if you want play doh you have to say ‘can I have play doh, please?'” When he follows, he gets what he wants. Today, this is his endearment especially to his daddy. He likes to play or make “ukay-ukay” daddy’s side table. So when he wants something of his dads, he says “Daddy please”.
Teaching this phrase “I’m sorry” is usually not common. Well it depends how you grew up. If your parents modeled to say “sorry” when they are, then it is common. But in our home, we want to practice saying “I’m sorry” when we know we have done wrong. If we accidentally hurt each other such as bumping one another, I say “I’m sorry” with a hug and a kiss. If we play rough and lets say Joshua falls, I say “I’m sorry” with a hug and a kiss. For Joshua, it is when discipline is required on him that he has to express it with his mouth that he is sorry. When he becomes disobedient, usually he finds it hard to say, “I’m sorry”. We have to go to a place where it is just the both of us, and he knows that mommy will have to discipline and administer a spank. This is where after the spank, I have to teach him to say, “I’m sorry”. Then we give him super hugs and kisses. I tell him “I love you but since you disobey and not follow mommy I have to spank. Okay?” Usually he would respond, “Okay” while wiping his tears. Then I would tell him, “Please say, I’m sorry.”… Then he would say, “I’m sorry”.
One time, Joshua was playing with his play doh and he left it in the open. Apparently, his play doh dried up and became hard and we could not mold it into anything because it would crumble. So, I told him tell his daddy what happened to play doh. So with the words he knew, he explained “Daddy, play doh is ‘tigas'(hard). I’m sorry” then he raised his hands towards his daddy and hugged him. My husband took him and hugged him and was surprised that Joshua said he is sorry about his toy. After all, it was daddy that gave him the play doh so he knew who to say sorry to. Daddy’s heart melted that his 22 month old baby boy was saying sorry… So, daddy bought Joshua a new set of play doh the next day.
Ever since Joshua was in the womb, prayers flooded over him. We would lay hands on my tummy and pray for him. When he was born, we continued to pray for him aloud… Then as he grew, his comprehension about prayer got clearer. We would pray before sleeping and as we wake. We teach him that after we converse with God to say “Amen”. He has learned to say that… Then sometime ago, I got a boil that got a bad infection. I was nursing the wound with gauze every after bath. He would come and look at me. I tell him that mommy has an “Ow-ow” or a short-cut for ouchie. Then when it was all gauzed up, I asked him to pray with me for quick healing. He would put his hand on the gauze and I would say “Jesus, please heal mommy’s ow-ow.” and he would say “Amen!” and smile. What a joy it is to have my son agree with me in prayer!
Let me be clear here with these accounts. We are not perfect parents and I have lots of stories to tell on how we fail as parents. Joshua is not a perfect son, this is why we have to teach him and train him the way he should go. We are all flawed… But by God’s grace, we are learning to follow what the bible says about raising our family. As the Lord guides, we continue to practice grace at home. It also is hard to teach our children if we ourselves don’t practice what we are teaching. I am convinced that the best way to imprint a character value on our children is to model it. The best way to model these is to have a relationship with God. Every parent cannot fulfill their appointed purpose separated from God.
These bible verses are so encouraging to parents.
“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)